This study examines the dire lives conditions of Indonesian illegal migrant workers. Although illegal migrant workers have become aware of their weak bargaining positions because of their illegal immigration status, the desire to earn higher income often leads them to seek employment in neighboring countries. The substantial wage disparities, the difficulty of finding jobs in their hometown, and the need to get economic and social capitals are some primary factors that encourage them to become illegal migrant workers. By using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, this study finds that Indonesian illegal migrant workers often face threats and adverse treatments abroad. Moreover, the bargaining position of the Indonesian illegal migrant workers is generally weak. The Indonesian illegal migrant workers often experience verbal, psychological, and physical abuse from their brokers, employers, and local immigration officers. The Indonesian illegal migrant workers survive from the hardship overseas as they take advantage of the social cohesion among their fellow illegal migrant workers to deal with the life pressures and limitations abroad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-204
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Bargaining positions
  • Illegal migrant workers
  • Indonesia
  • Social cohesion
  • Social pressures


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