More than 1,000 flushed out from hiding places
Several illegal immigrants have so far been found crouched in concealed rooms, secret compartments in ceilings, behind walls and even under the floorboards. They were among the more than 1,000 illegal immigrants nabbed as part of the Ops 6P Bersepadu operation, which kicked off at midnight on Saturday.
The operation was conducted jointly by the Immigration Department, police, Armed Forces, Rela, Civil Defence, National Registration Department and local councils. The officials also seized several illegal weapons, including a samurai sword, hammers and parang, during the crackdown.
They also uncovered a secret passage in an entertainment outlet in Melaka Raya, Malacca, which is used as an escape route.
Immigration Department deputy director M Saravana Kumar said the illegal migrants tried to elude capture by hiding in “special compartments” created in buildings.
“We found secret rooms built behind walls, between ceilings and roofs and also under the floors of makeshift squatter homes. As for pubs, discos and massage parlours, many had hidden passages for illegal people to flee,” he said.
Saravana Kumar said the operation would mainly target squatter houses, plantations and farms, entertainment outlets and massage parlours across the country.
He said those arrested would be investigated under Sections 6, 15(4) and 55 of the Immigration Act.
“The illegal migrants will be deported immediately while their employers can be fined up to 50,000 ringgit [Bt487,000], be jailed up to five years or given six strokes of the cane or all three. We are sending out a clear warning to employers not to hire illegal immigrants,” he said in Putrajaya yesterday.
The first phase of the operation, to last until the end of this year, will involve about 135,000 personnel.
The Immigration Department expects to arrest about 400,000 illegal immigrants and charge some 45,000 employers believed to have hired them.
Ops 6P Bersepadu is aimed at those who registered under the Illegal Immigrant Comprehensive Settlement Programme in 2011 (6P) but did not turn up for further processing, including legalisation and voluntary deportation.
During the registration that ended in October 2011, about 1.3 million of the estimated two million undocumented foreigners registered themselves with the Immigration Department.
Of these, 500,000 applications for legalisation were processed and 330,000 illegal immigrants were repatriated.