PICUM Bulletin — 7 June 2011
- European Policy Developments
- National Developments
- Labour and Fair Working Conditions
- Undocumented Women
- Undocumented Children and Their Families
- Detention and Deportation
- Publications and other Resources
In the last week of May, Greek police arrested around 400 irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Igoumenitsa, one of the major ports of western Greece. Around 600-700 irregular migrants and asylum seekers have been camping in the city for the past few years. Their initial aim was to manage and cross the Adriatic and leave for Italy and the rest of Europe but many, seeing the impossibility of this, have started settling in Greece in a temporary camp just opposite the main entrance of the port of the city. Now the local community together with the police have decided that their presence harms the image of the city and a "sweep" operation has started and plans have been put forward to destroy their provisional camp. In addition, the immigrants’ access to the city has been hindered resulting into a ghetto like situation. This context does not allow the migrants to look for food in the garbage of the city nor go to a doctor if they need to seek medical care. Doctors of the World, an organisation working and helping in the camp, warn that this might lead to a humanitarian crisis. The majority of these people come from conflict zones (Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan as well as Kurds from Syria) but there are also some northern African nationals among them.
Source: TVXS, 26 May 2011
On 24 May 2011, 200 Tunisians started a hunger strike on the Lampedusa Island Reception Centre to protest against their detention of longer than ten days and no clarity over their legal status. The hunger strike lasted 48 hours. During this time, tension between Tunisians and police forces erupted on several occasions. A Tunisian, married to a Dutch citizen, was witnessed to have been hit repeatedly by agents of the Italian police force.
Source: Fortress Europe, 26 May 2011
Mexican authorities fired seven regional directors of the country's immigration agency on 11 May 2011 after allegations that its officers in northern Mexico had delivered Central American migrants to kidnapping gangs. Commissioner Salvador Beltran del Rio described this decision as part of a wider effort to weed out corruption at the National Institute of Migration (INM), the agency that enforces Mexico's immigration laws. Mexican officials have pledged to fight armed groups that kidnap migrants to extort money or recruit them for drug trafficking.
Source: Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2011
Up to 270 migrants are missing off the Tunisian Kerkennah Islands after a ship heading for Italy ran aground and capsized on 1 June 2011. Rescue teams rescued 570 people from the overcrowded vessel but between 200 and 270 were still missing, the TAP news agency said. The mainly African migrants were on a boat bound for Italy from Libya. A Tunisian security official told Reuters news agency that search operations were continuing. The TAP agency said two people were confirmed dead during the rescue. Seven were injured and taken to hospital in the port of Sfax, while two pregnant women were taken to the maternity unit.
Source: BBC News, 2 June 2011
European Policy DevelopmentsTop
COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Nine Countries ratify Convention to protect women from violence, regardless of their status
.The Council of Europe Convention to Combat Violence against women opened for signature in Istanbul on 11 May 2011. The Convention received signatures from 13 states of the Council of Europe, three more than required for it to enter force on 1 September 2011. The countries that signed are: Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The Convention is the first legally binding instrument in the world creating a comprehensive legal framework to prevent violence, protect victims and end the impunity of perpetrators. It also contains specific reference to undocumented migrant women. See PICUM Bulletin 27 April 2011
Source: WAVE Newsletter, May 2011
Education Ministers of the EU released conclusions on early childhood education and care on 20 May 2011. The Council agreed that further EU action is necessary in this field. Early education complements the central role of the family and lays the essential foundations for language acquisition, successful lifelong learning, social integration, personal development and employability. High quality early childhood education is beneficial for all children, but particularly for those with a socioeconomically disadvantaged, migrant or Roma background, or with special educational needs, including disabilities.
Source: Council of the European Union, 19-20 May 2011
On 30 May 2011, President Van Rompuy made an impassioned plea against people becoming "less tolerant and more selfish". His comments come in the wake of the latest row on irregular migration between Malta and Italy, with the latter accusing Malta of failing to help migrants in distress. Speaking in Brussels, he reminded that this is not the time for Europeans to become less open, less tolerant, more selfish or materialistic, or even more racist. His comments are an implicit reference to the continuing plight of migrants trying to escape to Europe from Libya and other trouble-torn areas of the Arab world.
Source: The Parliament.com, 30 May 2011
The European Commission proposed on 18 May 2011 a package of measures aimed at boosting the protection of victims of crime in the European Union. The proposed Directive on minimum standards for victims, among its other aims, seeks to ensure that in all 27 EU countries victims are treated with respect and vulnerable victims are identified – such as children, victims of rape, or those with disabilities – and they are properly protected. The Commission is also proposing a Regulation on mutual recognition of civil law protection measures to help protect victims of violence from any further harm by their attacker. It will ensure that victims of violence (such as domestic violence) can still rely on restraint or protection orders issued against the perpetrator if they travel or move to another EU country. Parliament's political groups have welcomed Commission plans to boost protection for EU crime victims, but some say specific legislation on gender violence and organised crime is still needed.
Source: Europa Press Release, 18 May 2011; Euractive, 18 May 2011; The Parliament.com, 19 May 2011
EUROPEAN COMMISSION / Call for a more integrated approach on migration from southern Mediterranean countries
On 24 May 2011, the Commission published a new Communication aimed at establishing a “Dialogue for migration, mobility and security with the southern Mediterranean countries” which was presented by the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström to the European Parliament. The Commission emphasises the need for longer-term solutions to address structural challenges. It shows willingness to combat the roots of migratory movements and to support democratic reforms and development. It suggests the creation of tailor-made “Mobility Partnerships”, which would contribute to enhancing the capacity for management of the migration and mobility of persons.
Source: ECRE Weekly Bulletin, May 27 2011
Since the 1990s a series of laws targeting undocumented migrants have resulted in the criminalization of irregular migration. This is one of the causes for which more than one fourth of the people imprisoned in Italy is of foreign origin (36% of a total of 67.510 prisoners), and half of them still awaiting a trial, according to the Associazione Antigone that monitors detention practices. Only Portugal and The Netherlands are carrying out worse practices in Europe. A difference in treatment among migrants and Italian nationals is also to be noted.
Source: Repubblica, 25 May 211
The president of Mexico signed into law a new immigration law aimed at reducing the risks of migration. The measure decriminalizes the act of entering the country without papers and entitles undocumented migrants to education and health services. The law requires immigration agents to undergo special training and vetting, and it establishes criminal penalties for agents who abuse migrants or violate their rights. It also seeks to streamline paperwork for migrants.
Source: The LA Times, 28 May 2011; PICUM News Bulletin 9 May, Mexico/Lawmakers vote to protect undocumented migrants.
The Regulation of Law No. 4 / 2000 on Rights and Freedoms of Foreigners in Spain, commonly known as Immigration Regulations, which will enter into force in June 2011, constitutes another instrument of discrimination and criminalization of the migrant population, according to the trade union CGT. The first reason is that the new regulation develops further the 2009 reform of the Immigration Law, which historically imposes greater restrictions on the rights of the migrant population. Secondly, the regulation is very confusing and complex and generates a very intricate system of residence permits which hinders further the process of applying for residency. Finally, the regulation includes new indeterminate juridical concepts that will produce greater discretion to the Administration.
Source: CGT, 15 May 2011
The governor of the state of New York has temporarily pulled the state out of the federal Secure Communities program pending a review of the controversial policy. The governor has been under pressure by some elected officials and civil libertarians to suspend participation in the program, which federal officials say is designed to improve public safety by identifying undocumented immigrants who may then face deportation. Critics say the program oversteps boundaries by unfairly targeting innocent people. The state of Illinois has also opted out of the same program (see, PICUM News Bulletin 23 May, USA/Illinois advances the rights of immigrants).
Source: NY1, 31 May 2011
The Irish Government called for the regularisation of undocumented Irish in the US during Barack Obama's recent visit to Ireland. The trailer of an upcoming documentary called “Under the Radar”, which is about undocumented Irish migrants in the US, highlights the issues faced by them. Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) took the opportunity to also highlight the need for a response to the situation of the estimated 30,000 undocumented people, including children and families, who have been living undocumented in Ireland, many times due to the previous government's failure to establish coherent immigration structures and policies. Watch the 'Under the Radar' trailer here.
Source: MRCI, 23 May 2011; Irish Times, 23 May 2011
Labour and Fair Working ConditionsTop
CZECH REPUBLIC / RESEARCH / “Findings from a migration mapping study: Thai migrant workers in the Czech Republic”
The organization La STRADA has published its research on working conditions in the Thai massage industry in the Czech Republic. The report deals with the issue of human rights of migrants working in this field, their exploitation and abuse and possible strategies of avoidance of these negative phenomena. The report is available in English here.
Source: La Strada, 12 May 2011
Ten migrant workers employed at the Hotel Villa Francia in Cannes, France, protested during the world famous film festival to ask for their regularisation. The hotel employees from Cape Verde claim to be underpaid and unlawfully employed having just a temporary permit from Portugal and not working visas. Their protest was supported by the French trade union CGT.
Source: Maville.com, 18 May 2011
FRANCE / Only 200 irregular, professionally active workers out of almost 4,000 have obtained a residence permit
An agreement reached between the trade union CGT and the then ministry of immigration on 18 June 2010 to regularize the situation of migrant workers who had, for years, been professionally active in France, has resulted in only 200 residence permits issued out of almost 4,000 claims. For years, thousands of irregular migrant workers in France have been regularly working, paying taxes and social security by using documents of a friend or a family member. CGT supported them in a campaign that revealed their situation and called for their regularization. The agreement negotiated between the CGT and the government expired on 31 March 2011 and the results have been a great deception for the irregular migrants concerned, as well as for the CGT.
Source: Migration News Sheet, May 2011
Migration has contributed to consolidate Spain’s welfare system, a study concludes. Research commissioned by Obra Social La Caixa highlights that 30% of Spain's GDP growth in the last 15 years has been generated by migrants settling in the country. According to the study, the migrant workforce has facilitated the participation of women in the labour market and the move of local workers to jobs with better work conditions. The authors argue that migrants contribute to the economic development as workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, and tax payers. Read the full study here (in Spanish).
A property developer was ordered to pay almost £43,000 in penalties after putting at least six migrant workers at risk during demolition work at a warehouse in London. The developer had been fined before for not complying with client duties at previous sites. At least six Chinese migrant workers, who had been demolishing floors and removing the debris, were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres. The worker who fell from the scaffold suffered life-threatening injuries to his head, pelvis and spine, and can now only walk with difficulty.
Source: Health and Safety at Work, 31 May 2011
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has been ordered to pay £5,000 each to four women for failing to investigate allegations of slavery. The women, who had arrived in London from Nigeria as children, said they were beaten and emotionally abused by families they were forced to work for. The court heard the women were brought to the UK when they were aged between 11 and 15 years old. The women said they were made to work for no pay in households in and around London between 1997 and 2006. They complained that the police had infringed their rights under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by failing to investigate over a "significant" period of time. The High Court ruled that the force's "failure to investigate" breached the women's human rights.
Source: BBC News, 20 May 2011
USA / Prosecutions increasing for companies that hire undocumented workers while criminal arrests against the undocumented workers are decreasing
Obama administration officials are increasing prosecutions of companies that hire undocumented workers by enforcing tough criminal charges on employers and moving away from criminal arrests of the workers themselves. While conducting fewer headline-making factory raids, the immigration authorities have greatly expanded the number of businesses facing scrutiny and the cases where employers face severe sanctions. In a break with Bush-era policies, the number of criminal cases against undocumented workers has dropped sharply over the last two years.
Source: The New York Times, 29 May 2011
USA / Supreme Court ruled to uphold Arizona legislation which penalized companies hiring undocumented workers
The Supreme Court case, Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting , began several years ago when a group of business associations and civil rights groups filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the 2007 employment law. The Obama administration and the US Chamber of Commerce urged the high court to overturn the Arizona statute, arguing that it is up to the national government, not the states, to set and enforce immigration laws. The ruling, which passed with five Justices in support to three against, said federal immigration law does not pre-empt the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act. It is suspected to give more momentum to Arizona’s efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants. The state law bars the knowing or intentional hiring of an undocumented immigrant. Arizona employers that repeatedly violate the statute may lose their license to conduct business in the state.
Source: The Latin American News Dispatch, 27 May 2011; The Christian Science Monitor, 26 May 2011
SOLIDAR’s briefing aims to raise awareness on the rights of (migrant) domestic workers and their important contribution to the wellbeing of our societies. It calls for the recognition of domestic work as regular work and equal treatment to workers, irrespective of their migration status or gender. SOLIDAR recognises that the key element to making progress on this issue is to make sure that the ILO Convention on Domestic Workers, which is due to be put to the vote in the International Labour Conference taking place in June 2011, is adopted and implemented. Read the report here in English.
Source: ENAR Weekly Mail no. 270, 27 May 2011
On 26 May 2011, lawmakers from the top five labor-sending Asian countries urged host countries to enact laws protecting their citizens working abroad. The lawmakers from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia called for the passing of laws to protect migrant workers, referring in particular to major destination countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Several parliamentarians from the aforementioned Asian countries also urged the ILO to craft an internationally-accepted convention on decent work for domestic workers, and also highlighted the importance of recognizing the contribution that migrant domestic workers make to the development of both their home and host countries.
Source: December 18, 27 May 2011
Home Secretary Teresa May confirmed that the new requirement that applicants under the domestic violence rule be free of unspent criminal convictions would remain within proposed changes to the immigration rules (see PICUM Bulletin, 11 April 2011). The announcement was made on 17 May 2011 in response to a joint letter she received from 106 organisations concerned about the impact the new requirement would have upon domestic violence victims on a spouse dependent visa. Several members of the House of Lords echoed these concerns in a debate held shortly after the announcement and Lord Avesbury tabled a Motion of Regret.
Source: Migrants’ Rights Network, 17 May 2011
Undocumented Children and Their FamiliesTop
The French Minister of Interior, Claude Guéant, has stirred up a controversy by making remarks insinuating that children of non-European immigrants are somehow less capable than others. Mr. Guéant stated that, “a quarter of foreigners who are not of European origin are unemployed and children of immigrants are responsible for two-thirds of school dropouts”, apparently citing figures from the 2010 annual report of the High Council for Integration (HCI) on the challenges of integration in school. In a communiqué, the Teachers’ Union (SE-UNSA) declared that it was “shocked” by this new diatribe that stigmatizes children and uses “figures (that) are not based on any statistical reality”. The Federation of Parents of Public School Students (FCPE – one of the main federations of parents of pupils in France) also denounced the Minister’s remarks, calling on the Minister to “stop playing with guesswork statistics” and using migrants as scapegoats for all the ills of French society: unemployment, school failure and violence”. Another organisation, the National Union of Secondary School Students (UNL) also strongly questioned the figures and the link made between geographical origin and academic success. The real causes of school failure, said Victor Colombani, Chairman of the UNL, “are the differences of social categories and the inequalities of conditions of studies”.
Source: Migration Policy Group, Migration News Sheet e-newsletter, June 2011
The Central Council of Appeal has ruled that the Municipality of Amsterdam is responsible for the shelter of a 9 year old Ghanaian boy and his mother, who are in a legal procedure to receive a residence permit. The judge ruled that they cannot be repatriated while the trial is on-going. The house corporation had evicted the mother and son from their house and their subsequent appeal to the municipality was refused. On the basis of the European Treaty for the Rights of the Child, which states that children are in a vulnerable position and should have the right to be protected in their private life, the municipality should provide shelter for both mother and child. Jurist Martine Goeman of 'Defence for Children' called the ruling 'ground-breaking' in the defence of children.
Source: de Telegraaf, 30 May 2011
THE NETHERLANDS / Labour foundations attempts to convince government to allow undocumented children to do internships
Dutch employers and employees came together in the Labour Foundation (Stichting van de Arbeid) by writing a letter to the Dutch government and Parliament to urge it to make it possible for undocumented children to be able to do an internship in order for them to graduate. Internships are not accessible for individuals without documents because they are considered jobs, and employers can be fined if they employ undocumented youth. The Foundation states that it is vital for these children to obtain a diploma and point out that doing an internship stage is different from regular paid work for which a work permit is necessary. However the Dutch government pointed out that any type of work is not permitted and that ”it is not necessary that aliens do an internship and graduate with a diploma that gives them access to the Dutch labour market”.
Source: SpitsNieuws, 23 May 2011
The DREAM Act, also known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, was reintroduced on May 11, 2011, in both the US Senate and House of Representatives. The DREAM Act would enact two major changes in current law: first, it would permit certain immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status and to eventually obtain permanent status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military. Second, it would eliminate a federal provision that penalizes states that provide in-state tuition without regard to immigration status. Under current law, persons obtain their immigration status solely from their parents, and if their parents are undocumented or in immigration limbo, most have no mechanism to obtain legal residency, even if they have lived most of their lives in the U.S. On the national level, the Governor of Illionis announced that he will sign the Illinois DREAM Act which will allow undocumented students to obtain financial assistance for education programs and as well, provide additional funding assistance to counsellors in helping undocumented students. For more information on the DREAM Act see past PICUM news bulletins November/December 2010 and October 2010.
Source: National Immigration Law Center, 25 May 2011; Chicago Tribune, 31 May 2011
Detention and DeportationTop
Belgium spent more than six million Euros to enforce repatriations in 2010, with an average of two persons expelled per day. Included in the amount are the airline tickets for both the deportees and the police escort who receive a bonus for taking part in such operations. The total number of deportations carried out in 2010 was 8,780, which includes forced and voluntary repatriations and refusals of entry at border points of entry.
Source: Migration News Sheet, May 2011
This web documentary by Julie Chansel and Michaël Mitz is published on Canal Plus website and describes the French deportation system. It relates to the 25 French retention centres, among which 11 accommodate families and children, before their expulsion. It shows testimonies of "detainees", evokes "policy of figures", questions "administrative fierceness" and reveals an absurd system which has dramatic human consequences.
An undocumented woman jumped from the 4th floor on 25 May when the police knocked on her apartment door to arrest another undocumented man, who wasn’t in the apartment at that time. She arrived at the hospital in serious condition and was put in an artificial coma.
Source: France3, 25 May 2011
The Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, has decided to expel journalists from centres of identification and expulsion. Although a ministerial letter circulated on 1 April 2011 did not alert many, it banned all press agencies from entering the CIEs. Warning has been expressed that this would mean going back ten years when journalists were not allowed to enter CPTs ‘Centres of Temporary Permanence as they were known. The only method of communication between detainees and the outside world is by mobile phone but it is increasingly more difficult, since detainees’ mobile phones are confiscated whilst in detention.
Source: Fortress Europe, 2 May 2011
For years, among those who are familiar with or have encountered the system of immigration courts in the United Kingdom, stories have been commonplace about unfairness or lack of due process. Trained lawyers have expressed concern, for example in the report “A Nice Judge on a Good Day” recently published by Bail for Immigration Detainees. As such they have no other vested interested other than that of wishing to see justice done. This report gives an account of the systematic study they have carried out in observing 115 bail hearings and what they have found. Read the full research can be read here.
Source: Detention Forum UK, 15 March 2011
UK / Rejected asylum seeker faces deportation back to a country where she was harassed and branded because of her sexuality
A Ugandan woman who was branded with a hot iron in her home country as a punishment for her sexuality, is facing forced removal from the UK, despite that deputy prime minister said that the coalition had ended the practice of deporting people to countries where they face persecution because of their sexual orientation. Betty Tibikawa, 22, who is detained in Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedford, is awaiting removal directions after her asylum claim was refused. Human rights organisations have consistently documented abuses against gay men and lesbians in Uganda and say that it's one of the most dangerous countries in the world for gay people. Tibikawa had just finished high school and was due to go to university in Kampala when she was attacked by three men who taunted her about her sexuality. They pinned her down in a disused building and branded her on her inner thighs with a hot iron. They left her unconscious and when she finally managed to get home she was confined to bed for two months. An independent medical report has confirmed that her scars are consistent with being branded with a hot iron.
Source: The Guardian, 21 May 2011
A video produced by the network Cuéntame shows how the system of privatized prisons in the US profits from the criminalisation of undocumented migrants and lobbies the Congress in favour of anti-immigration laws. Watch the video here.
Publications and other ResourcesTop
Between June 2010 and March 2011, about thirty experts were interviewed by the French association "Cette France-là" to analyse the immigration policy implemented by the government during the past four years. The results and reports are published online and will help to fight against stereotypes diffused by the politicians.
Source : Terra
Illegal fishing to feed European demand for seafood is devastating coastal communities in the Gambia and across West Africa thus forcing many people to leave their homeland and make a perilous and sometimes deadly voyage to Europe in search for employment and a better living conditions. Read the full article here.
GREECE / CONFERENCE / Pan-European Conference on the Integration of Immigrants “Good practices in the sectors of Health, Welfare and Social Security”
The conference will be held in Athens, Greece, on 27-28 June 2011. The goal of the conference is to bring together experts to exchange good practices, experiences and views on migrants’ integration on the fields of health and social care. It is organized by the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Health, Prolepsis, and is funded by the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals – GREECE through the Greek Ministry of Interior Decentralization and E-government. For more information please visit the Conference’s website, call +302106255700 or contact email@example.com.
The next international meeting of Migreurop will take place on 27-28 June 2011 in the framework of the anti-racism meeting of Cecina, Italy. It will take place during a larger debate on Mediterranean space organised by ARCI with the REMDH network and Migreurop on 27-29 June 2011, and in the context of thousands of Mediterranean victims of migration travels and policies since the beginning of 2011. More information at firstname.lastname@example.org. The programme is available on the Migreurop website.