Managing Migration: The Politics of Immigration Enforcement and Border Controls in Malaysia

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ProQuest, 2008 - 242 pages
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Malaysia is one of the largest net-importers of labor in Southeast Asia, with about 25 percent or 3 million of its workforce comprised of foreign workers. Yet the Malaysian government increasingly harasses, arrests, and deports thousands of migrants each year. This response reveals two puzzles. First, Malaysia has largely embraced neoliberal economic policies, lowering national barriers to trade and capital. While this neoliberal orientation suggests that Malaysia might also lower barriers to foreign labor inflows, the government has instead aggressively instituted restrictive immigration policies and tightened border controls since the late 1990s. Malaysia's increasingly restrictive immigration policies have not only cost the government human and financial resources, but they have also led to labor shortages in key sectors. A second puzzle is that the government has developed formal bureaucratic agencies which offer relatively professionalized and effective enforcement of immigration policies. But the government has delegated sweeping authority to a largely untrained baton-wielding civilian force. This trend runs counter to conventional assumptions that the Malaysian state ardently seeks to monopolize the use of coercion.

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