Papua New Guinea's acting deputy police commissioner says the 77 Papuans arrested in a border crackdown near Vanimo are being assessed for links with the Papuan liberation movement, the OPM.
Fred Yakasa says anyone found not be a citizen of PNG will be considered an OPM activist and sent to the refugee camp at East Arwin.
Mr Yakasa says although respect for Indonesian sovereignty is paramount, it would be wrong to send those people back to Papua to an unknown fate.
"We respect Indonesia and West Irian as an integral part of Indonesia and that respect is there and we just want to make sure no rebel activity or anything of that nature advances on our side of the border."
Fred Yakasa says despite the border's length, controls on the likes of drug and weapon smuggling can be strengthened.
The border security operation, called Sunset Merona, is the biggest joint force operation and involves police, the defence force, immigration and customs.