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Illegal workers arrested in raids across Malaysia

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Authorities start crackdown after deadline for E-Cards passes

PUTRAJAYA: In the early hours yesterday, a convoy of trucks and cars with 86 officers on board rolled out from Malaysia's Immigration Department headquarters.

They headed for Kapar, Klang, where a make-shift dormitory for foreign workers was the first to be targeted for an enforcement raid.

The team was headed by the department's director-general Mustafar Ali, who had insisted on moving only after midnight.

"We have to give them time (to get their E-Card)," he had told reporters earlier.

With the passing of the deadline last Friday, the crackdown on illegal immigrants began.

At the dormitory in Kapar, there was just enough light to make out the workers gathered in the courtyard, where officers checked their documents.

Enforcement officers rounded up 239 workers and found 51 were without valid documents.

They were later hauled away for further action. Most offenders were from Bangladesh.

Mr Mustafar said most of the workers inspected were working at nearby furniture and plastic manufacturing factories.

A worker from Myanmar said she was not aware of the deadline. "My boss went to get the cards but not everybody got them," she said.

Just a day before, Mr Mustafar had warned that "there will be absolutely no extension" of the deadline for the E-Card registration.

The E-Card, launched on Feb 15, functions as a temporary confirmation of employment for illegal workers and replaces valid travel documents from their countries. It was given out to employees for free and is valid until Feb 15, 2018.

In Ipoh, a handful of illegal immigrants tried to flee as enforcement officers raided a construction site in Taman Menglembu Impiana Adril around 11.20am but were caught.

Perak Immigration operations chief Suhai­rie Bah Ali said that of 28 workers who were rounded up, four were illegal immigrants.

State Immigration deputy director Sharmanrizal Rustam said that as of last Friday, about 7,200 E-Cards were issued.

In Penang, 23 foreign workers were rounded up following a raid on four premises.

Penang Immigration director Meor Hezbul­lah Meor Abd Malik said that most of those arrested were from Indonesia, adding that about 8,000 foreign workers in the state had registered for the E-Card. - THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK