PUTRAJAYA, May 3, 2020 - The government has a right to take action against immigrants living illegally in the country without valid documents, said Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said the government cannot simply allow illegal immigrants to roam freely even if they had previously completed their COVID-19 quarantine in areas placed under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).

“Malaysia is a sovereign country that has its own sets of laws to protect the nation and ensure the wellbeing of the people”, he said in his daily press briefing
The minister was asked to respond to criticism by several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including Amnesty International over the arrests of illegal immigrants in the city during the pandemic.

"The government had announced previously that we will tighten security along the country's borders (as one of the measures to prevent imported cases of COVID-19) including areas considered as 'lorong tikus' (illegal routes)," he said.

He said the Immigration Department would ensure social distancing is exercised to prevent the spread of the virus if the illegal immigrants are arrested and placed in detention.