Malaysian authorities have detained some 1,520 'undocumented' Bangladeshis during their crackdown on 'illegal' foreign nationals since 1 July, said Bernama, Malaysia's national news agency, on Wednesday.
The Southeast Asian nation launched the nationwide raids a day after expiry of the deadline for undocumented foreign workers to register with immigration authorities.
“A total of 17,955 people have been screened and, as a result, 5,065 illegal immigrants from various countries have been arrested,” Bernama quoted Mustafar Ali, director-general of the immigration department, as saying.
The detainees include 1,520 from Bangladesh, 1,476 from Indonesia, 429 from Myanmar, 285 from Vietnam, 206 from Thailand and 261 from the Philippines.
As many as 108 employers were arrested. A total 367 people have also been summoned to appear in court.
Mustafar Ali was also quoted to have said that strict actions would be taken on employers and undocumented workers caught in this operation.
Many of the detainees have been charged in courts and some have been sentenced to jail for several months, according to officials.
According to non-government organisations, Malaysia, having population of 32 million, has 2 million legally registered foreign workers and a similar number of undocumented immigrants.
Those without valid papers mostly work in what locals describe as “3D” - dangerous, difficult and dirty - jobs in construction, plantations and factories.
Malaysia, the Southeast Asia’s third biggest economy after Indonesia and Thailand, became a popular destination for migrant workers after it posted robust economic growth in the past few decades.
As the country experienced a surge in illegal immigration, it implemented a law on 1 July 2016, requiring a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 ringgit (US $233) in most cities and about 920 ringgit ($214) in Sabah and Sarawak - for local and foreign workers.
Immigration officials were quoted to have said they had taken steps to inform foreigners about the registration programme by meeting Bangladeshi, Indian, Indonesian and Nepalese embassy officials in recent weeks.
“The initiative taken was to explain efforts being taken, including measures that should be taken by employers and workers after the end of the e-card (enforcement card) registration, including the issuance of travel document and the completion of the rehiring process,” Mustafar said.