The department's director-general Mustafar Ali said last Friday that more than 3,000 illegal immigrants have been arrested nationwide under an operation launched on July 1. The operation will kick up a gear from Aug 31, he told reporters, and issued a call for offenders to surrender before then. Employers who hire and harbour illegal foreign workers will also be detained, he said.
"We have started the voluntary surrender program, which enables all illegal immigrants in the country to return to their countries of origin voluntarily," Mr Mustafar told reporters. "So, they still have the chance to surrender until Aug 30 before we take a more firm approach."
Malaysia periodically conducts mass deportation of illegal migrants, with the last round held in July last year. At that time, officials said 600,000 foreign nationals were working illegally in the country.
Malaysia has some two million registered foreign workers, most of whom are in menial or service jobs in plantations, construction sites, restaurants, as well as office buildings and malls. According to reports, most of the foreign nationals in the country are from Indonesia, Bangladesh and Myanmar, including ethnic Rohingya.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 22, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysia moves against illegal immigrants'.
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