170 undocumented migrant workers denied departure

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Andika Pandu Kurniawan, Joko Purwanto
Head of Immigration Intelligence and Enforcement at the Soekarno-Hatta Immigration Office Andika Pandu Kurniawan and Head of BP2MI Serang Regional Office Joko Purwanto at the “Immigration on Air” talk show on Prevention of Irregular Indonesian Migrant Workers at Terminal 3 Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Thursday (1/20/2022). Photo: BP2MI

IO – Indonesian Immigration at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport prevented 170 immigrant workers from leaving the country on Jan. 1-19, 2022. They were denied departure due to incomplete documents, being non-procedural or illegal. “Sixty people were supposed to go to Malaysia and 110 more to other countries,” explained Andika Pandu Kurniawan, Head of Immigration Intelligence and Enforcement at the Soekarno-Hatta Immigration Office, Thursday (1/20/2022). 

Andika said the illegal migrant workers would be handed over to the Indonesian Migrant Workers Protection Agency (BP2MI) to receive education and assistance in completing required documents to work abroad. “We have been cooperating with the Soekarno-Hatta Airport Police to investigate several cases that we suspect may have to be dealt with by law,” he explained. 

Immigration officers often find it challenging to identify undocumented migrant workers because they look like regular travelers. “They have various schemes. Some people start with an internship, usually in Japan. In Korea, they are usually students doing an internship and don’t return home because they found a job,” Andika said. 

Others use an Umrah pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. “They performed Umrah and don’t return. There are also people who pretend to be tourists, such as voyagers to Turkey or Dubai,” Andika added. 

Immigration officers must closely observe the validity of documents and keep an eye on the workers during interviews. Thus, Soekarno-Hatta Airport Immigration involves BP2MI in analyzing suspicious migrant workers. 

Head of BP2MI Serang Regional Office Joko Purwanto said the urge to work overseas as soon as possible is a factor that boosts the number of such migrant workers. They want it done in a flash. 

In fact, working overseas through the official channel is not that complicated. “…as long as the conditions and administration are fulfilled,” said Joko. 

Many undocumented migrant workers only prepare passports and visas. They are not in possession of other documents, such as work agreements that regulate salary, location and length of work, parental or spousal consent, job training or skill-building. “They must report to village officials or village heads, pay for insurance and obtain a health certificate issued by appointed health facilities declaring that they are fit to perform work,” Joko explained. 

Since 2021, BP2MI has deterred nearly 1,500 irregular Indonesian migrant workers. Hundreds of them lacked procedural documents required by Law No. 18 of 2017. 

“The most important step is to register to the BP2MI Office to complete the documents so there would be no problem before departure, during the airport immigration check. They could go anywhere legally,” Joko concluded. (eka)