Reporters from The Star in Malaysia released the second installment of their investigative report, “Student/Trafficked,” which chronicles the trafficking of Bangladeshi migrants to Malaysia on student visas. In this 14-minute video report, the journalists meet with several undocumented Bangladeshi men living in hidden camps and college agents who admit that the student visas are just a cover.
Among the Bangladeshi men they met, most were undocumented and said that they were promised a well-paying job in Malaysia. Yet when it came time to leave they discovered that recruiter had gotten them the wrong visa. One man said, “He didn’t tell me I was getting a student visa. Only after opening the passport we discovered that it was a student visa.” Many of the men say they didn’t know they couldn’t work on a student visa.
It is through this deception that migrant workers are being smuggled into the country on student visas — and colleges are complicit in the the process with recruitment agencies. In an undercover interview with one college agent, he explains how he knows Bangladeshi men his college accepts aren’t actually students, but that he can arrange for them to be enrolled in programs and make it look in the records like they have attended classes.
Many Bangladeshi men live in squalor next to construction sites where they work, but some have opted to live in hidden camps off the side of the road so that they aren’t discovered during an immigration raid. They are stuck living in the shadows; after paying thousands of dollars to get to Malaysia under the false promise of a well-paying job, they are instead given student visas by recruiters and unscrupulous colleges.
Once in Malaysia, companies that do hire these men can easily exploit them as they know they will not report labor abuses to the authorities. If they do, these Bangladeshi men risk getting deported — meaning the huge sum of money they paid to get there will go to waste.