PUTRAJAYA, March 22 ― The government has collected RM9.48 million in compounds through Immigration Department’s Migrant Repatriation Programme so far, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

Speaking at a media conference here today, Saifuddin said the programme implemented early this month (March 1) will go on until December 31, 2024.

“When we give the Migrant Repatriation period until December 31 this year, they (illegal immigrants) will have to appear at the Immigration Department office to pay the compound.

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“Then, they can return to their respective countries of origin without us 'proceeding' under the Immigration Act and the Passport Act which may lead to prison terms,” he said.

He said there are three categories that qualify illegal immigrants to register in the programme, namely entering or staying in Malaysia without a valid passport or permit, overstaying in Malaysia and violating the conditions of the passport.

He said a total of 19,515 illegal immigrants had registered in the programme, while 13,760 were sent back to their countries of origin from March 1 to 21, 2024.

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“We will continue to monitor the matter because we consider this programme to be an important initiative in managing the issue of illegal immigrants in our country,” he said.

On March 1, Saifuddin reportedly urged illegal immigrants to turn themselves in at any Immigration office and pay a compound of between RM300 and RM500 to enable them to return to their country of origin without being prosecuted in court.

The implementation of the programme follows the government's decision on January 31 to grant exemption from prosecution and offer a compound to illegal immigrants who surrender to return to their country of origin for three offences.

On the case of employers who abandoned 94 Bangladeshi workers, he said the Ministry of Human Resources (KESUMA) was solving the issue of job placement and accommodation for the group.

“These people have documents that's why they can enter Malaysia. It's just that when they came here (Malaysia), the employers did not provide them with jobs and a place to live.

“This is being handled by KESUMA. The documentation process under our authority (Home Ministry) has been completed,” he said.

On February 27, the media reported that the authorities managed to rescue 94 Bangladeshi workers who were reported to have been neglected without being provided with suitable jobs and accommodation by employers since they were brought into the country in November 2023 by a construction company in Cheras, Selangor. ― Bernama