Putrajaya unveils plan to send back undocumented migrants for good

PUTRAJAYA: Undocumented migrants can now opt to pay a RM700 compound and voluntarily leave the country without risking arrest for illegally staying in Malaysia.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said it was part of his ministry’s “Back For Good” programme to deal with undocumented migrants in the country.

“This programme has gotten the approval of the Attorney-General’s Chambers and will take place from Aug 1, to Dec 31, 2019,” he told a press conference at the immigration department here with department director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud.

However, it is not for all undocumented migrants.

“Those foreigners (who are eligible) will have to bring valid documents – passport and emergency travel certificates – as well as a ticket to return to their country of origin within seven days,” he added.

Muhyiddin said they would only have to pay a total of RM700.

The programme will be carried out by the immigration department in Peninsular Malaysia, without the involvement of vendors or agents. He said 80 immigration counters would be set up for this.

Muhyiddin urged all high commissions and embassies in the country to work together with the immigration department to see that their citizens leave Malaysia and return home.

Undocumented migrants in the country, or PATI, commit an offence under Section 15(1)(c) and Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 by overextending their stay in Malaysia and not having valid travel documents.

Beginning next year, Muhyiddin said if employers were found to still be hiring or protecting undocumented migrants, strict action would be taken against them for breaking the law. “After that, we mean business.”

Enforcement operations will be carried out from then on. The programme will also not be extended after the five-month period comes to an end.

A long-term comprehensive plan to solve the issue was also in the pipeline, as promised by the Pakatan Harapan, he added. One proposal is to blacklist such migrants.

“We will not let our country be filled with people who come in without permission, (who) enter illegally and (who are) brought in by syndicates and so on. We have to put a stop to this (problem of influx of undocumented migrants).”

But Muhyiddin issued a caution about such amnesty programmes, saying: “I’m personally quite reluctant, to be frank, to have these sort of amnesty (programmes or) whatever you call it or as you call it in Malay, ‘pemutihan’. They are white then back to being black.”

He said although action had been taken in the past with amnesty programmes in place, there was still an influx of undocumented migrants.

To show it is serious this time, the government will no longer help undocumented migrants who complain about not having been paid their wages.

“They came in illegally. This is wrong according to the law so why would the government want to help them?

“If at all (we want to help), we will help to catch them and send them back,” he quipped. “Not to help them with the problems they face with their employers.”