2,443 illegals nabbed on first day of crackdown

2,443 illegals nabbed on first day of crackdown
An illegal immigrant hiding in makeshift living quarters in Klang being discovered during the weekend raid. Malaysia has some two million illegal workers.

MALAYSIA - Continuing a massive crackdown on illegal foreign workers which began on Sunday, the Malaysian government said it will not stop until every single one is deported.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said immigration officers arrested 2,443 people on the first day of the exercise - 717 were Indonesians, 555 Myanmar nationals, 387 Bangladeshis, 229 Nepalese and others from Cambodia, Vietnam and China.

"This is an ongoing operation and we will not compromise," he told reporters on Monday. "Our target is to achieve zero illegal immigrants."

Malaysia has some two million illegal workers, many of whom work in labour-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, construction and plantation industries.

The police and immigration department officers said many of those arrested were found in squatter houses, plantations, entertainment outlets and massage parlours across the country.

Datuk Seri Zahid also warned that employers found protecting illegal workers will face legal action.

Employers hiring these workers could be either fined up to RM50,000 (S$19,000) or face a jail term of up to five years, caned or all three.

Economists say Malaysia's reliance on masses of low-income illegal workers has kept the country mired in low-value activities. But the country has also periodically held amnesties in an attempt to identify and legalise them.

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