Wednesday, January 16, 2013

400,000 illegal immigrants repatriated

Posted by Smookiekins On 1/16/2013 03:18:00 PM

The Federal Special Task Force (FSTF) in Sabah has repatriated more than 400,000 illegal immigrants to date, the Royal Commission of Inquiry was told yesterday.

According to FSTF Sabah and Labuan director Datuk Suhaimi Mohd Salleh, the unit had deported a total of 446,173 illegal immigrants to their home countries since 1990.

Suhaimi, the fifth witness in the hearing, also said the task force also ensured that those residing in the 32 refugee villages had valid travel or identification documents and those without them, would be arrested and handed over to the Immigration Department for further action.

“We work with the Immigration Department on the deportation of illegal immigrants as it issues the deportation order while FSTF finances the exercise,” he said.

Suhaimi also told the inquiry that FSTF was set up in 1989 in Sabah at the request of the state government which was having problems with the sudden influx of refugees from the Southern Philippines to the state.

In a FSTF census in 1990, there were 300,390 immigrants in Sabah, he said, adding that the task force conducted a second census in Sabah but it only involved Filipino refugees living in the 32 settlement villages throughout the state.
“We recorded a total of 59,237 Filipino refugees then and in the 2010 census on 16 of these settlement villages, we recorded a total of 38,158 Filipino refugees,” he said.

He disclosed that in 2011, FSTF was only able to conduct its census on 16 settlement villages because of time constraints and a shortage of staff, and assured the panel that FSTF would take up where it left off, soon.

To commission chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Steve Shim’s question if any studies had been done to find out what was the result of the huge disparity between the 1990 and 2010 figures, Suhaimi said it was because some of them had been issued with the IMM13 document.

Another reason was also the increased enforcement and deportation exercises by enforcement agencies as well as the six-month regularization in 1996 which was conducted by FSTF, he said.

He explained that the regularization exercise provided illegal immigrants in the state the opportunity to apply for valid identification and other relevant documents if they wanted to stay in Sabah.
Some also took the opportunity to return to their homeland voluntarily, he said.

Shim also asked Suhaimi if the significant decrease in immigrant population in the state was due to the fact that over the years most of them would have been issued with identification documents by other agencies, the latter replied: “I am not sure.”

He added that FSTF only issued census certificates to refugees after the census and no other documents.
To Shim’s question about the RM72 million allocation to FSTF, Suhami said it was used for administrative, management and welfare of the immigrants in Sabah, including their deportation costs.

Source: Borneo Post

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