The Republic of Indonesia has started with a large-scale program of expelling all illegal immigrants it finds within its borders, with immigration officials conducting mass raids and arrests all over the country.
Data from the Indonesian Law and Human Rights Ministry’s Directorate General of Immigration revealed that in 2016, 7,787 foreigners, 1,837 of whom were Chinese, were punished for violating immigration regulations.
In one of the latest raids, almost 100 foreign prostitutes were arrested in West Jakarta in the first week of January after immigration officers raided nightclubs, karaoke bars, and boarding houses.
The raid came after the government announced that it would set up a task force to improve surveillance on foreign workers.
The Indonesian ministry’s directorate general of immigration spokesperson, Agung Sampurno, said that during the raid, officers seized 92 passports, and money amounting to Rp 16 million (US$1,200).
Those arrested face a maximum of five years in prison and fines up to Rp 500 million. They will also be deported and banned from entering Indonesia.
At the same time, the Mataram Immigration office in Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara province announced that it was deporting a dozen illegal Chinese workers for violating immigration laws.
“We will deport them soon,” the head of the immigration office, Romi Yudianto, told Indonesian media. “These foreigners had work activities here, but when our officers inspected their work location they could not show any proper documentation,” he added.
The Chinese nationals only had visas to work as crewmen onboard ships, but had started additional work on dredging boats to install pipes in Labuhan Haji Port in East Lombok district—and that was enough to get them arrested and expelled.
A further 98 illegal workers from China, found employed in a Riau province power plant, were also arrested over the past weekend.
The workers were all holding tourist visas, and had started working after overstaying. All will be deported.
The Indonesia government crackdown on illegal immigration comes as public rumors swept the country that the standard visa free travel policy has allowed millions of illegals—especially from China—to enter the country.
Indonesian government officials have dismissed the “millions” allegation as a hoax, saying that the total number of illegal immigrants is in the tens of thousands.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) dismissed the “millions” allegation saying that it was unlikely that Hong Kong Chinese would want to work in Indonesia, where pay is lower,
“It is just impossible that people from Hong Kong, go to America and Europe to look for jobs, where they can get a much higher pay than in their countries,” Jokowi said.