Nearly 39000 undocumented Bangladeshi workers returned home from Malaysia until December 12 last under the 'Back for Good' (B4G) programme of that country. The 'voluntary' programme started on August 01 this year.
The number of Bangladeshis returning home is the second largest among the all the returnees from the Southeast Asian country under the amnesty programme, according to a local media report.
B4G will not be extended after the December 31 deadline and the Malaysian immigration authorities are set to carry out a massive detention operation after that.
Kuala Lumpur has adopted an aggressive stance on the immigration issue in an attempt to control foreigners living there illegally.
The immigration department on August 01 launched the B4G programme for irregular foreign workers and to repatriate them.
In the meantime, Bangladesh High Commission sources said an estimated 50,000 migrant workers would be brought back home.
A large number of the undocumented workers have already availed the services under the Kula Lumpur scheme for repatriation, they added.
The Malay Mail, a Malaysian news portal, reported on Saturday that a total of 138,901 illegal immigrants have voluntarily returned to their countries of origin as of December 12.
Of the number, Indonesians were the highest with 53,328 people, Bangladeshis 38,734, Indians 22,964, Burmese 6,923 and the rest of other countries.
"We expect the total number to increase every day until the end of the month," the report quoted immigration department director general Khairul Dzaimee Daud as saying.
"Immigration department has extended its operating hours until 10:00 pm, and our offices nationwide are open at the weekend," he said after an Immigration Fun Run programme on Saturday.
Mr Daud further said that the government has made a decision not to extend the B4G programme any further.
After the deadline is over, the department will conduct a massive crackdown on illegal immigrants.
According to the report, a migrant only needs to obtain a complete identification document from his or her embassy or high commission before handing it to immigration office for processing.
Also, they need to pay a compound fine of MYR (Malaysian ringgit) 700 and show valid flight tickets for them to return to their countries of origin.
However, Bangladeshis staying in Malaysia told the FE that immigration centres are currently overcrowded with foreign workers.
It, therefore, takes a long time to complete the entire process of receiving a special pass from immigration to return home.
Allegations have it that various airlines have increased the airfare two to three times taking undue advantage of a huge rush of passengers.
It is very tough to arrange the money by a poor worker, the victims told this correspondent.
They said most of the undocumented Bangladeshis had applied for regularisation under a rehiring programme that ended on June 30.
But 50 per cent of them could not be regularised because of reasons like fraudulent practices by middlemen and outsourcing companies.
More than 1.0-million Bangladeshi workers have gone to Malaysia with jobs since 1978, according to the data of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training.