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Illegal immigrants queuing at the Immigration Department to apply to join the ‘Back For Good’ repatriation programme in Putrajaya yesterday. PIC BY AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR
Illegal immigrants queuing at the Immigration Department to apply to join the ‘Back For Good’ repatriation programme in Putrajaya yesterday. PIC BY AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR

PUTRAJAYA: With just days before the Dec 31 deadline, thousands of illegal immigrants who want to be repatriated voluntarily through the “Back For Good” (B4G) programme are rushing to submit their applications.

Since early this month, the Immigration Department here had seen huge crowds of people from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, India, Cambodia and Nepal.

Many of them arrived early in the morning and formed a queue at the designated counters for the programme, which snaked around the building at Presint 2 here for at least 1km.

Despite being given an appointment date to return and complete the application process, many had refused to leave the compound.

Checks by the New Straits Times yesterday revealed that many of the immigrants, mainly those from out of town, such as Shah Alam and Johor Baru, spent their nights there.

“We are trying to manage the surge in people flooding the department by giving them appointment dates to come and get their special pass and clearance memo,” said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Despite the advisory, many are adamant and are staying, fearing that they may miss their chance to be repatriated under the programme.

“We have tried telling them to come back early on the appointment dates given, but they just don’t want to leave.”

It was learnt that the building and office cleaners had been told to face unexpected “waste products” in the area.

There were also reports that the immigrants did not use the toilet facilities as they wanted to secure their spots in the queues.

A foul smell from certain sections of the building suggested that people had relieved themselves in the open.

The official confirmed this, adding that “we had no choice but to allow them to stay overnight here”.

“Many of them came from far away and took public transport to get here.”

The Immigration Department extended its operating hours until 10pm to allow the applications to be processed in a timely manner.

“We will also be working on weekends until Dec 31, to make sure all the illegal immigrants return home,” said the official.

On July 18, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the implementation of the B4G programme from Aug 1 to Dec 31 as part of measures to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the country.

The programme did not get much response when it kicked off in August.

“Thousands of people waited until the very last minute to apply to be included in the programme,” said the official.

The B4G programme also aims to save the cost of depot management, as well as curb health and social issues.

Under the programme, illegal immigrants are required to obtain complete identification documents from their embassies or high commissions before handing them to the Immigration Department for processing.

Applicants are also required to pay a compound of RM700 for overstaying and produce the flight tickets to return to their countries of origin.

The last amnesty programme, the 3+1 amnesty programme, ran from 2014 to August last year.

A total of 840,000 illegal immigrants were repatriated and RM400 million in compounds was collected under the programme.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said 138,901 illegal immigrants had been repatriated under the B4G programme up to Dec 14.

Indonesians formed the highest number at 53,328 people, followed by those from Bangladesh (38,734), India (22,964) and Myanmar (6,923).

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