PICUM Bulletin — 9 November 2011
- United Nations
- National Developments
- Health Care
- Labour and Fair Working Conditions
- Undocumented Women
- Undocumented Children and Their Families
- Detention and Deportation
- Publications and other Resources
- Other News
Two irregular migrants died and eight were injured, all of Iranian origin, in Egnatia Odos, in the north of Greece in the early morning on 11 October 2011 after a crash following the police chasing them by car. The police had received information about a car crossing the border with irregular migrants and chased them. Three other irregular migrants also died on 11 October while crossing the Evros River in the northeast border of Greece with Turkey. The victims were an 18 year old Pakistani citizen and another young immigrant of Asian origin. The police reported that the deaths occurred from drowning across the rapids in the river. The body of a third immigrant was found on the shores of the river in a nearby location. Two undocumented migrants died on the evening of 7 October 2011 when a train hit them near the town of Alexandroupolis, close to the Turkish border. Additionally, on 23 September 2011, it was reported that a small boat carrying 65 Kurdish and Afghani undocumented migrants broke down, about 90 nautic miles southwest of the island of Zakynthos. The port authorities managed to rescue 62 people but the bodies of three migrants who had drowned were found in the sea.
Source: Clandestina, 11 October 2011 and 24 September2011
On 20 October 2011, the UGT (General Trade Union of Workers) and CCOO (Trade Union Confederation of Workers) held a third tribute to the immigrants who died on Spanish coasts, or at sea, around Gibraltar and in the Canary Islands since the beginning of this migration route which began in 1994. The figures in the last decade are ‘alarming and confusing’, with 17,386 people who have died on their journey to Europe and 6,500 who are still missing. This does not include all the incidents which were not reported.
Source: Canarias 7, 21 October 2011
USA / Republican candidate “jokes” that an electronic fence should be put up between the US and Mexico
Herman Cain, one of the candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination, said that his proposal for an electrified border fence and military troops that had guns with real bullets as a means to solve irregular immigration was actually a joke and that it should not have taken seriously. The comments were made at campaign rallies in the state of Tennessee where crowds actually cheered at the suggestion of building an electrified fence along the U.S.-Mexican border that could kill people trying to enter the country irregularly. He corrected his statement by saying that there was a need to secure the border with some type of fence which would most likely be a mix of technology and troops.
Source: CBS News, 30 October 2011; New America Media, 19 October 2011; MSNBC, 17 October 2011; The New York Times, 15 October 2011
UN Agencies came together on 31 October 2011 and signed a joint agreement to work closer together to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling. The memorandum of understanding was signed by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and aims to combine the work of both entities in overlapping issues to more effectively target criminals involved in human trafficking and to better protect their victims. In the words of António Guterres (UNHCR): “The 21st century is the century of people on the move. Climate change, food insecurity, urbanization, population growth, all these trends are combining and forcing people to move and there are complex protection gaps”, adding that this opens opportunities for irregular and forced migration. The agreement will focus on four defined regions based on the agencies’ work: Latin America, the Gulf of Aden, Afghanistan and its bordering countries, and North Africa.
Source: UN News Centre, 31 Octobre 2011
The action Group ‘Les voor iedereen’ (Classes for all) protested on 27 October 2011 in Antwerp’s historic centre against a decree of the Flemish Minister for Education. The decree holds that only regular migrants can benefit from adult language classes, something the group claims runs against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Belgian League for Human Rights, a Christian labour union and a Brussels based NGO are now taking the case to the Constitutional Court.
Source: Nieuwsblad, 28 October 2011
The Dutch Minister for Security wants to start a pilot project in Rotterdam to actively search and detect undocumented migrants. The police will be given equipment to take finger prints of those people the police suspects to be in an irregular situation. This has led to opposition from some factions, who claim that the plan is in breach of the principle of equality, as the police might selectively single out people for an identity check.
Source: Rijnmond.nl, 25 October 2011; nieuws.nl, 25 October 2011
UK / Home Secretary claims that British judges are overzealous in their usage of the Human Rights Act
Following her criticism of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) (See PICUM Bulletin 11 October 2011) in a letter leaked to the press, Ms Theresa May, UK Home Secretary, stated that “There is now a divergence in approach between the UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights over whether the family of a person facing removal from the UK can live elsewhere, and the weight to be given to family relationships formed whilst migrants are knowingly breaking immigration laws.” She believes that too many undocumented migrants are allowed to remain in the country on the grounds that their companions might suffer if they are forced to leave. The letter was addressed to Westminster’s joint committee on human rights and in the letter she cites a number of recent cases where she believed that UK judges had misinterpreted the law.
Source: The Express.co.uk, 31 October 2011
In a wide-ranging speech on immigration, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, vowed to make it easier for registrars to stop suspected bogus marriages and to crackdown on “health tourists” who receive treatments by the National Health Service (NHS) but then leave the UK without paying the bill. He also announced changes in “the Citzenship Test” which will now include questions on topics such as Winston Churchill, the Magna Carta and the English Civil War for the first time in six years, while questions on the EU and migrant worker rights will be replaced. Mr Cameron also called on the public by urging them to alert the Border Agency phone hotline or the agency website of persons suspected of being in the country unlawfully. As well migrants who marry a Briton will still have to wait five years for settlements rights, instead of the current two and the Home Office announced health tourists who have failed to pay debts of £1,000 or more will be banned from entering or staying in the UK.
Source: The Telegraph, 11 October 2011
CYPRUS / Documentary looks critically at the access to health care for undocumented migrants in Cyprus
KISA-Action for Equality, Support and Antiracism, an NGO in Cyprus and a PICUM members, has created a video documentary titled “Access to Health Care in Cyprus for Undocumented Migrants and Asylum Seekers: A fundamental right for everyone?”. The three-part video looks critically at the current level of access to health care in Cyprus for undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, showing access in law and practice. It includes interviews with people that have experienced hardships and worsening of medical conditions because of their inability to access care.
Source: KISA, YouTube, September 2011
Labour and Fair Working ConditionsTop
PICUM Member Migrants Rights Center Ireland (MRCI) celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary on 12 October 2011 with an event that included migrant activists, supporters from trade unions and community organizations, as well as the President of Ireland, Ms Mary McAlesse. MRCI has fought a number of successful workplace campaigns for migrants, and some of their achievements include: €2.5 million in legal awards for exploited migrant workers, many of whom are undocumented; improved conditions for workers in the mushroom industry; protections for domestic workers; reforms to the work permits system; a ‘Bridging Visa' to regularise undocumented migrant workers who fell out of the work permits system through no fault of their own. Central to the MRCI's work has been a community work approach that brings migrants together to take collective action on issues affecting them. For the anniversary, they created a series of short videos which highlight their work over the years in exposing injustice, building their voice, standing up for rights and shaping the future.
Source: MRCI, October 2011
An investigation by Sveriges Radio (SR) has concluded that there is a trend to employ undocumented migrants in Sweden which often results in them working ‘like slaves.’ Raids made by the police found that undocumented migrants who are hired to work in car wash facilities worked long hours and were paid extremely low wages. Jerk Wiber, Head of the Border Police in Stockholm stated that “this is a new phenomenon”. The majority of cases took place in Stockholm but similar cases were reported in Gothenburg and Malmö.
Source: The Local, 23 October 2011; Business & Human Resource Centre, 23 October 2011
Marissa Begonia, spokesperson for Justice 4 Domestic Workers and a campaigner on the rights of migrant domestic workers, was presented with a Human Trafficking Foundation Media Award at a House of Lords ceremony. The award was presented to Ms Begonia by the UK Minister of Immigration, Mr Damian Green, and Ms Begonia took advantage of the opportunity in her acceptance speech to give a critique of the government’s plan to change the current domestic worker visa. Planned changes to the visa program would not allow workers that are suffering in abusive conditions to leave their employer and seek new jobs in the same sector of work.
Source: MRN, 26 October 2011
PICUM will be holding an international conference on “Undocumented Women in Europe: Bringing Local Realities to EU Policy Level” on 12 and 13 December 2011, at the Residence Palace, in Brussels, Belgium. The conference marks the culmination of PICUM’s research on undocumented migrant women in Europe and will bring together a broad range of civil society, professional, and institutional actors involved in the support and protection of undocumented women’s rights across the region. Addressing the multiple discrimination facing undocumented migrant women in terms of i) Sexual and Reproductive Health Care, ii) Workplace Rights, and iii) Gender-based Violence, the event seeks to foster joint action and policy change at European level. This is a public event, open to all interested participants. Online registration is now open via the PICUM website. Registration is free. Deadline for registration is Monday, 5 December 2011.
Undocumented Children and Their FamiliesTop
After a review of the case of Mauro Manuel, the 18 year-old Angolan who has lived in the Netherlands for nine years, the Minister for Immigration has said that giving a residence permit would lead to a precedent for others to follow and has thus denied Mauro the right to stay. The affair has led to heavy debates in parliament and a split in the Minister’s own party. The only option the Minister could offer is a student visa, which would be a difficult process as Mauro would in any case first have to return to Angola.
Source: De Volkskrant, 1 November 2011; Elsevier, 1 November 2011
Following the judgment of the European Court of Justice in the Zambrano case (see PICUM Bulletin 14 March 2011, 11 April 2011 and 29 August 2011), the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) will be amending the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 before the end of 2011 to issue documentation to carers of British children, giving them the right to live in the UK. The judgment creates a right to reside and work for the sole carer of a dependent British citizen when that carer has no other right of residence in the UK and removing the carer from the UK would mean the British citizen would have to leave the European Union. Details of what evidence will be accepted by the UKBA have not been provided, however evidence of the relationship and the dependency between the applicant and the British citizen can include a letter from social services departments. It is understood that further guidance is forthcoming.
Source: UKBA, 21 September 2011; NRPF Network, NRPF Bulletin Issue 32, October 2011
The Observer has reported on the serious shortcomings of the systems for identifying and protecting victims of trafficking, particularly children. Drawing on three particular cases, the Observer highlights the vulnerability of unaccompanied children to abuse, exploitation in the sex trade, and re-trafficking. Critics of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), the system introduced in 2009 to protect trafficked victims by rapidly identifying possible cases to the UK Border Agency, note that it is staffed entirely by Home Office officials; not a single trafficking or child protection specialist has input. Instead of concentrating on a child's welfare, victims are often arrested. The Observer cites official data, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, which corroborates civil society statements that the system is biased against children of foreign origin, with them less likely to be considered victims of trafficking. It also condemns the inaction when migrant children go missing from state-provided accommodation and its unsuitability for children and vulnerable people. Amidst this report, Kent County Council has informed that 25 children, aged 12 to 17, whom had been victims of trafficking and placed into care had ‘gone missing’ with no way of knowing where they had gone. The Country Council stated they could not force these children to stay in care and added they suspected their disappearance may have been linked to the fact they were nearing adulthood with 16 of the 25 whom disappeared were nearly 18 years-old. This news has further sparked the debate and need for reform of the care system for children trafficked into exploitation.
Source: The Observer, 16 October 2011; The Guardian, 18 October 2011
The England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) has elaborated the duty of the UK Border Agency to consider the best interests of the child in decisions regarding deportation of an irregularly residing family. In the case, R (on the application of Tinizaray) v Secretary of State, the Court details the factors which should be considered when determining whether or not it would be proportionate, considering the impact it would have on the child, to refuse an application for a child’s carer to remain in the UK, which would result in the family having to leave. The factors are quite extensive and relate to the child’s life, education, social network and future prospects in the UK, compared to those if he or she were to move to the parent’s country of origin. Further, it rules that it is the UKBA’s responsibility to ensure that it has enough information to make a well-informed decision considering all of these factors, when such evidence has not been provided. The judgment drew on the guidance of the Supreme Court in its judgment in the case ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State (See PICUM Quarterly Newsletter January-March 2011), as well as Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, which states the UKBA’s duties regarding the welfare of children. Read the full judgment here (EN).
Source: Free Movement Blog, 26 October 2011
USA / Students bring a lawsuit against a Florida policy which does not allow in-state tuition to American citizens who have undocumented parents
A class-action lawsuit has been filed by Florida residents being charged out-of-state tuition rates to attend state colleges and universities because of their parents’ immigration status. The students are U.S. citizens, born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants, and say that Florida's regulations violate their constitutional rights. Some universities have rules stating that because parents lack legal immigration papers, the children have to pay out-of-state tuition rates, which in some schools can be $5,000 per semester. Involved in the suit are five students — all U.S. born and children of undocumented immigrants — who are suing the state, claiming their rights as citizens are being violated. The state law has been in effect for just a few years and hundreds of Floridians at least are potentially affected. It is an issue that has come up in some other states as well. Both California and Colorado resolved similar disputes by extending in-state tuition rates to the students in question. In Florida, the policy is the result, not of a law, but regulations handed down by the state Education Department and the Board of Governors, which oversees higher education. Neither body is commenting on the lawsuit, but it is possible Florida lawmakers might take matters into their own hands. This legislation differs from the DREAM Act because the DREAM Act focuses specifically on undocumented students and provides them with a pathway to rectify their administrative status and does not take into consideration their legal status of the parents (the Florida legislation focuses on students that are U.S. citizens but whose parents are undocumented).
Source: National Public Radio, 31 October 2011
USA / Republican candidate hopeful Michelle Bachman states that she would not do anything for the children of undocumented migrants
At a campaign stop in the state of Iowa, Republican presidential candidate, Michelle Bachmann, said she would not help children of immigrants who come to the U.S. irregularly. A Latino college student asked her what she would do to the children of undocumented immigrants and she responded with a hard-line stance that the federal government should not grant them citizenship and said she would not do anything for them. At another campaign stop she suggested passing a law that would bar citizenship to children born in the U.S. to parents who are undocumented immigrants.
Source: The Huffington Post, 30 October 2011
Spanish-speaking parents report that their children are facing more bullying and taunts at school since Alabama's tough new immigration laws took effect (see PICUM Bulletin 24 October 2011). Many blame the name-calling on fallout from the law, which has been widely covered in the news, discussed in some classrooms and debated around dinner tables. Justice Department officials are monitoring for bullying incidents linked to the law. "We're hearing a number of reports about increases in bullying that we're studying," the head of the agency's civil rights division, Thomas Perez, said during a stop in Birmingham, Alabama. The Justice Department has established a bilingual telephone hotline and special email account for residents to report any violence or threats based on racial or ethnic background that could be linked to the law. Officials would not provide a breakdown on the types of complaints being received.
Source: CBS News, 22 October 2011
Based on research of Los Angeles area residents, a new study by UC Irvine professor Frank Bean and three other researchers has documented the persistent educational disadvantages for children of undocumented migrants. The study analysed data from a 2004 survey of 4,780 adult children of immigrants in the five-county Los Angeles metropolitan area. Among them, 1,350 were children of Mexican immigrants; 45% had undocumented parents. The study found that children of undocumented migrants averaged 11 years of education, compared with about 13 years for those whose parents were regular migrants. But once undocumented migrants found ways to regularise their status, the study found, their children's educational levels rose substantially. Bean notes that children of undocumented migrants face high levels of stress, lack money for academic enrichment activities and, particularly for boys, pressures to work that lead many to drop out of school. The study's authors said their findings highlighted the need to help such families gain legal migration status and a more secure future, arguing that deporting all of them was unrealistic.
Source: Los Angeles Times, 22 October 2011
PICUM NEWS/EVENT / “Building Strategies to Protect Children in an Irregular Migration Situation in Poland”
PICUM, the Polish Migration Forum and FROG will hold a workshop on 9 December 2011 in Warsaw on “Building Strategies to Protect Children in an Irregular Migration Situation in Poland”. Despite legal entitlements to education, health care, and housing, children in an irregular migration situation face numerous barriers to exercising these rights in most European countries. They face high risks of poverty, exploitation, social exclusion, and violence. The goals of this workshop are for participants to build mutual understanding of the problems that children in an irregular migration situation face in accessing education, health care and housing in Poland, and collaborate to devise some concrete actions and strategies to improve on some of the challenges identified. It is one in a series of seven intensive national workshops being carried out within the framework of the “Building Strategies to Improve the Protection of Undocumented Children in Europe” project the others are being held in Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. To register and for additional information, please visit the PICUM website. The deadline for registration is 25 November 2011.
Detention and DeportationTop
ITALY / 151 undocumented migrants found along the coast of Puglia and international observers requests’ denied to meet them
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Save the Children have expressed their worries as they were denied access to visit the 151 Egyptian undocumented migrants, among them, 70 children and 68 adults, found by the Italian Guardia di Finanza on the night of 23 October 2011 nearby the coast of Apulia region, Italy. The 70 children have been sent to different reception centres in Campania and Sicily, whereas all adults were repatriated the following day, 24 October 2011 with a charter flight from Puglia region. The President of Apulia region, Nichi Vendola, spoke against such repatriations and expressed his concern to the authorities that denied international observers such as UNHCR, IOM and Save the children to meet the migrants and ensure that their rights were guaranteed. His appeal went unheard.
Source: La Repubblica, 24 October 2011 and 25 October 2011
Fortress Europe has documented and reported 3,592 forced repatriations to Tunisia and 965 to Egypt since the beginning of 2011. Such repatriations often occur after an exceptionally long detention period without legal authorities’ authorization and without giving the migrants the chance to meet a lawyer or the staff of International observers. In Italy, detention conditions within the CIE (Centre for Identification and Expulsion) remain difficult, often failing to meet migrant’s rights. Attempts to escape the CIEs have decreased over time with punishments becoming harsher.
Source: Fortress Europe, 1 November 2011
Michal Flynn and Cecial Cannon from the Global Detention Project published in October 2011 a report entitled “Immigration Detention in Switzerland: A Global Detention Project Special Report”. This report provides a clear outline of detention practices and conditions in Switzerland. The situations vary with some centres having a ‘good reputation’ for their humane conditions but still many receive increasing criticism particularly on issues of arbitrative and punitive detention regimes, excessive use of force and proportionality of sanctions imposed for violations of the foreigners law. Click here to view the report.
The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) released a new report entitled, “Unlocking Liberty: A Way Forward for US Immigration Detention Policy”. The report puts forth proposals for the federal government to responsibly enforce immigration laws, significantly reduce the financial costs of enforcement and compassionately fulfil humanitarian obligations. LIRS suggests alternatives to detention such as bond and community support. The report notes that while alternatives to detention save the US government up to $100 a day per immigrant, they also lower the human cost of prolonged and indefinite detention experienced by those whose lives are unnecessarily put on hold while the courts deal with the tremendous backlog of immigration cases. Their interactive website includes a Tool Kit on how to use the new access procedures for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities, videos which highlight their proposals and discuss how community based model would work, and as well as listing of the Authorized Immigration and Detention facilities in the US.
Source: The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), October 2011; LIRS Report, Unlocking Liberty, October 2011
USA / The influence of the Secure Communities Program as seen through the eyes of street vendors in LA
Street vending is prohibited in the city of Los Angeles in California; however it is possible to still see many people selling churros, fruits and empanadas in many street intersections. What often happens is that vendors are arrested at the discretion of the officer who may decide to issue them only a warning. However increasingly police officers cite these street vendors for a violation of the L.A. City Municipal code, especially since the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) stopped accepting the Matricula Consular, a consulate-issued identification card used by Mexican nationals living in the US. Under the Secure Communities fingerprint program implemented in August 2009 in L.A., the LAPD is automatically linked with the federal government’s immigration agents. This involves the city and county criminal justice systems in the federal responsibility for civil immigration enforcement. This undermines the 1979 Special Order 40, which states that the police are not interested in someone’s legal status. The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles has reported that deportation cases are common and that detention may result even when the arrestee has no semblance of a criminal record, even though they are merely community members who are trying to make a living for their families.
Source: Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, 17 October 2011
USA / Organizations win legal suit which will provide access to a critical memo regarding the Secure Communities program
A federal judge ruled that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) must turn over an internal memo that could reveal the agency's legal justification for mandating the Secure Communities deportation program. In April 2010, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and others sued five federal agencies - including the FBI, the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the Office of Legal Counsel - seeking information about Secure Communities, under the Freedom of Information Act. The organizations involved in the suit stated that they have been seeking the memorandum ordered disclosed as it is the only document to date that comprehensively describes the legal authority claimed by ICE in support of its position mandating state and local participation in the controversial program. ICE must produce the memo by 1 November 2011.
Source: The Court House News Service, 26 October, 2011
Publications and other ResourcesTop
Gregory Feldman published a book entitled “The Migration Apparatus: Security, Labour and Policymaking in the European Union” in October 2011. The book analyses the activities and practices of migration policy officials carried on a daily basis with the aim to harmonise EU legal channels to work in the EU whilst tackling the issue of irregular migration. In revealing the complexity of the problem, the author warns against social indifference and “targeted brutality of collective hatred”. Click here for further information.
The XXI Dossier by Caritas/Migrantes for 2011 sheds light on the most relevant aspects of migration, with special focus on the situation in Italy. According to the statistics, Italy hosts 4,570,317 foreigners, among whom half a million are undocumented migrants. Concerning irregular migration, the dossier refers to the centre for identification and expulsion (CIE)s’ costs and ineffectiveness, where unduly long detention periods and lack of proper legal assistance have resulted in several protests. According to the Caritas/Migrantes Report, 7,039 migrants have been in a CIE in 2010, with an average stay of 51 days and the new legal possibility to be detained for up to 18 months. The report also states that in 2010 of the 50,717 irregular migrants, 4,201 were sent back to the border and 16,086 were repatriated by force.
Source: La Repubblica, 27 October 2011
A new study released by the Berkley Law School at the University of California looks critically at the Secure Communities program with an analysis of demographics so far provided by US Immigration and Enforcement (ICE). The report is the first is a series of reports based on the data and finds that overall individuals are pushed through the system rapidly, without appropriate checks or opportunities to challenge their detention or deportation. Their findings show that 39% of individuals arrested through Secure Communities report that they have a US citizen spouse or child, meaning that approximately 88,000 families with US citizen members have been impacted by the program and as well, Latinos comprise 93% of individuals arrested through Secure communities though they are only comprise 77% of the undocumented population in the United States.
Source: Berkley Law School-University of California-The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, October 2011; The Bell Policy Center, October 2011
Migrants Rights International is organizing with the support of international partners and civil society organization, the 2011 People's Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights which will take place from 29 November to the 2 December 2011 as a parallel event to the 2011 Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). The 2011 PGA will be held in Geneva, Switzerland at the Maisons des Associations, on 29 November - 2 December. For further information with regards to registration, programme, technical and all other details please visit the event website. Please feel free to also contact us for other details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Migrants Rights International
The Boats 4 People initiative has launched their website in English, French, Italia and German in order to share more widely information with regards to the coordination of the initiative. Boats 4 People was initiated by various European organisations as a response to the lack of action taken by authorities to assist the more than 2,000 irregular migrants who drowned at sea since January 2011. A 'Solidarity Flotilla' is planned to sail off in the Mediterranean in Spring 2012. The main objectives of the Boats 4 People campaign is to increase media and political attention to the tragedies taking place in the Mediterranean; to denounce those who are failing to assist migrants in difficulties; gather information on human rights violations and to support solidarity actions of citizens and sea workers to assist irregular migrants at sea. For further information, visit the website of Boats 4 People.