PICUM Bulletin — 15 February 2012
- European Policy Developments
- 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
Young girl and grandfather missing when boat with migrants overturned A 9 year old girl and her grandfather have gone missing since the morning of 29 January 2012, in the area of Orestiada in Evros. With nine other irregular migrants, they were attempting to cross the Evros River from Turkey to Greece when their boat was overturned due to bad weather conditions. The rescue operation began when two of the irregular migrants who were on the boat with a 3-year-old boy were found and arrested by the police in the area of Orestiada. The rescued boy was transferred to the University Hospital of Alexandroupolis in good condition. His parents were found later with seven other irregular migrants and they were all transferred to the Hospital of Didimoticho to receive first aid.
Source: Infomobile, 29 January 2012 ; Ta nea, 29 January 2012 ; Skai, 29 January 2012
A Palestinian irregular migrant died of hypothermia, on 30 January 2012, near to Tychero village in Evros, whilst another 14 irregular migrants were rescued. In their attempt to cross the Evros River from Turkey they became trapped on a small island. The migrants were found and rescued by officers of the Border Guard Department of Tychero, while the Palestinian migrant was transferred in critical condition to the Medical Centre of Feres, where he later died of hypothermia. Among the survivors, seven were nationals of Eritrea, three were from Algeria, two from Palestine, one from Syria and one from Bangladesh.
Source: Clandestina, 30 January 2012; To vima, 30 January 2012; Skai, 30 January 2012
Three undocumented migrants from Afghanistan aged 20 to 23 died from asphyxiation inside a truck on the way to Igoumenitsa, a port in Western Greece leading to Italy. Their bodies were found ditched on the side of the highway after the survivors from the truck informed the families of the deceased in Afghanistan.
Source: TVXS, 7 February 2012
The Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis has stressed in the Greek parliament the need for more personnel to patrol Greece’s land and sea borders in order to combat irregular migration, despite calls by Greece's creditors for public spending cuts. Papoutsis classified irregular immigration as a ”national priority” noting that Greece has already received 42 million euros in European Union funding that has gone toward designing and operating a “complete system” for securing the bloc's southeast border. Papoutsis also said that ‘in 2011 more than 100,000 irregular immigrants have been arrested’, demurring that ‘we could have done better, but they had to be held somewhere.’ The minister added that efforts are being made to ensure that all 14 of the country's immigrant detention centres, which have come under fire from rights groups for often deplorable holding conditions, become fully operational within their legal guidelines.
Source: Kathimerini, 3 February 2012
Arriving by boat from Greece, 70 undocumented migrants reached the coast of Gargano in Apulia region, Italy, on 29 January 2012. They were almost all of Afghan, Iranian and Pakistani origin and of young age. The sailing boat appeared to have been left abandoned at sea along the shores of Apulia. Among the 70 irregular migrants, three were urgently hospitalized, five were found in severe exposure conditions, and one young man had bronchial pneumonia.
Source: La Repubblica, 30 January 2012
In the early hours of 23 January 2012, a group of migrants originating from the Maghreb were rescued by The Guardia Civil and Marine Rescue when they were seen approaching the Huelva Coast by boat. Marine rescue sources declared that 41 out of the 56 migrants on board were children under the age of 18 and many of them appeared to be under 10 years old. On the same day, and within hours of this incident, a group of 60 migrants from Sub-Saharan countries reached the Ceuta Coast by means of swimming and using tyres and life vests for support. Over ten of these 60 migrants were confirmed to be less than 18 years old.
Source: El País, 24 January 2012 ; Heraldo, 23 January 2012
UNHCR / Mediterranean Sea sets record as most deadly stretch of water for refugees and migrants in 2011
At a press briefing on 31 January 2012, UNHCR spokesperson Sybella Wilkes spoke of how, in 2011, an estimated 1,500 people have drowned or gone missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. In 2011 UNHCR recorded the highest number of deaths in the Mediterranean region. 2011 also set a record in terms of the massive number of arrivals in Europe via the Mediterranean, with more than 58,000 people arriving. The majority of 2011’s arrivals by sea landed in Italy (56,000, of whom 28,000 were Tunisian), while Malta and Greece received 1,574 and 1,030 respectively. In addition, according to Greek government figures, some 55,000 irregular migrants crossed the Greek-Turkish land border at Evros.
Source: UNHCR, 31 January 2012; Migrants at Sea, 31 January 2012
On 2 February 2012, the Center for Cultural Investigation of the Autonomous University of Baja California (CICI-Museo UABC) exhibited on the border wall between Mexicali, Mexico and Calexico, in the US, eighteen photographs taken by David Bacon on the subject of irregular migration. Beacon explained that his photos “aren't neutral. They are, first, a reality check, showing what life is actually like, trying to do it through the eyes of people themselves. But they are also a form of social criticism - of poverty, of the discrimination and unequal status migrants face, especially in the U.S., but even in Mexico itself. Therefore, they're also a call for social change”. Click here to view a short clip of Beacon talking about the exhibition posted by the CICI-Museo UABC on their Facebook page.
Source: ImmigrationProf Blog, 6 February 2012
European Policy DevelopmentsTop
The European Commission has announced a study carried out by the Institute for the Study of Labour (IZA) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) on the “Active inclusion of migrants”. The study reviews the main trends in migrants’ current situation with regards to social assistance and access to social services throughout Europe. The report shows that irregular migrants face the greatest risk of exclusion from social services amongst all migrant groups.
Source: European Commission, 13 January 2012; Bulletin No. 5 of Legal and Institutional Studies, University of Girona, 3 February 2012
More than 2,000 migrants are due to return to their homelands in the coming months as part of a new voluntary repatriation scheme being run by the Athens office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Many of these migrants had travelled to Greece with high hopes of finding work or relocating to a more prosperous European Union country, but in the past two years many have ended up sleeping on the streets, eating out of garbage bins and falling victim to racist attacks. Last year more than 1,200 migrants were sent home in the first wave of the IOM’s repatriation scheme. The new programme has a budget of 5 million euros, the bulk of which is to be covered by the EU. Most of the migrants who have applied for repatriation are Afghans, Pakistanis and Moroccans. Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry said that it would open an embassy in Athens to help repatriate migrants.
Source: Kathimerini, 24 January 2012
It has been one year since the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concluded in the case of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece that Greece did not have an effective asylum system in place. On this occasion, Amnesty International (AI) published on 26 January 2012 a public statement in order to underline that it is still concerned about the protection of the human rights of asylum seekers in Greece. AI referred to the poor and degrading detention conditions, especially for the unaccompanied or separated asylum seeking children at the immigration detention facility of Amygdaleza and at the border guard stations. Moreover, AI expressed concerns about the paucity of reception and their insufficient capacity to accommodate asylum seekers, as well as about the persisting obstacles in access to asylum procedures. In the public statement, AI acknowledged the difficult current economic situation of Greece however it urged the Greek authorities to make proper use of the resources made available by the EU in order to improve reception conditions and protect migrants’ rights.
Source: Amnesty International, 26 January 2012; Clandestina, 2 February 2012
A number of unsuccessful asylum seekers in the Netherlands have been permitted to stay in reception centres because of the extreme cold, while others already living on the street have been able to go into a shelter. Some large municipalities have made more beds available to make sure irregular migrants and others living on the street do not have to stay outside.
Source: NOS, 27 January 2012
The xenophobic site Avpixlat has suggested to its readers that they should get involved in voluntary work and pretend that they want to help undocumented migrants in Lund, in order that they can then use the information gathered to denounce migrants to the police. The site describes the work performed by asylum groups as illegal and undemocratic and suggests that citizens should support the police and migration authorities in their work to enforce deportations of undocumented migrants who have received a negative decision on their asylum claim. The Migration Authority however state that it is not a crime to help undocumented migrants. The police declined this kind of support and do not want to be connected to any volunteer groups in tracking undocumented migrants in Sweden, although they would however take into consideration tip-offs from credible individuals. The asylum group in Lund is aware about this risk and thinks it is serious, but says that the attempts so far have been obvious and have created immediate suspicion.
Source: Sveriges Televion, 24 January 2012 and 25 January 2012
It was officially announced that the US Supreme Court would hear oral arguments in Arizona v United States on 4 April 2012. The case will specifically address the Arizona legislation which was passed in 2011, testing the ability of states to pass their own immigration measures, an area of law which is typically reserved for the federal government. The case will not be decided until late June 2012 and it is anticipated to have a high impact on the 2012 presidential election. How the Supreme Court rules will likely affect similar laws in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah.
Source: Immigration Impact, 7 February 2012; Huffington Post, 3 February 2012
A Belgian law that is supposed to make medical regularisation of irregular migrants more difficult will enter into force on 16 February 2012. Under the new law, doctors working at the Immigration Service will have the authority to approve or reject applications for medical regularisation themselves. At the same time, pending requests will be cancelled if the applicant does not show up at a doctor’s appointment. Finally, the medical proof that applicants use for their application cannot be older than three months. In 2011, 9,675 people applied for medical regularisation, double the total of 2010, although only 5% have been approved.
Source: Het Belang van Limburg, 6 February 2012
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has announced a call for tenders on the issues of “Migrant health: key infectious diseases affecting migrant populations in the EU/EEA”. The purpose of the research is to develop a literature review and outline key (in terms of high burden) infectious diseases affecting migrant populations in the EU/EEA, how migration impacts such diseases, as well as offering recommendations. For further information please visit the ECDC website. The deadline for submission is 12 March 2012 at 16:00.
Source: ENAR, 7 February 2012
The “Agenzia sanitaria e sociale regionale” of the Emilia Romagna region has published a report as part of the “Migrants and Healthcare: Responses by European Regions”: a project of the Regions for Health Network (RHN) and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe (WHO-Euro). The report provides 11 regional reports with a detailed outline of the health systems, rules and initiatives relating to migrants’ health. All the chapters are in English, only the introduction is also in Italian.
Source: Agenzia sanitaria e sociale regionale, 31 January 2012
UK / Doctors of the World notes that barring people from accessing free healthcare will be more costly
In a radio interview with the BBC, a staff member of Project:London, a clinic established by Doctors of the World UK, stated that barring people from accessing healthcare would mean that more people would need to use emergency services, which would in turn prove more costly. It is estimated that emergency services could cost almost three times more than primary care. Project:London provides services to all individuals regardless of their status, noting that health staff should be looking at the medical needs of the individual and not whether or not they can pay.
Source: Doctors of the World, 25 January 2012
USA / WEBSITE / UndocuHealth website established to address mental health issues that undocumented youth may face as a result of their status
The National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) which is a network of undocumented youth-led organizations and groups which are striving for the equality of all immigrant youth, regardless of status, have created UndocuHealth. The website UndocuHealth is a new resource created as a way to address the mental health issues that face the young and undocumented. The NIYA declared 31 January 2012 as “Undocumented Youth Mental Health Day” and organized nationwide vigils to remember those that have commited suicide because of their undocumented status. They also have plans to launch a 24 hour hotline so that undocumented youth can reach out to fellow young immigrants.
Source: ColorLines, 31 January 2012 ; Undocuhealth, 1 February 2012
In the state of Nebraska a coalition of religious and health groups are calling on state lawmakers to restore government-funded prenatal coverage which benefited low-income and undocumented women. Advocates say that the lack of prenatal visits has increased the risk of birth defects, difficult deliveries and expensive intensive-care costs. A bill was introduced in 2010 which would address the end of the services however an outspoken lawmaker was adamantly opposed to granting any taxpayer benefits to undocumented migrants. Supporters of restoring prenatal care say that it is an issue that should have nothing to do with immigration status; it is simply the morally and fiscally responsible action.
Source: Livewell Nebraska, 8 February 2012
Labour and Fair Working ConditionsTop
The Parliament of Bulgaria adopted amendments to the Penal Code according to which employers who employ five or more irregular migrants will be punished with imprisonment. According to the texts, violators will pay a fine ranging between 2,000 to 20,000 Bulgarian Lev (EUR 1,025-10,225) and those who employ irregular minors are expected to be punished by imprisonment of up to five years as well as a fine of 3,000 to 30,000 Bulgarian Lev (EUR 1,534-15,338). If the employers systematically violate the law, the penalty according to the new provisions of the law will be one to five years in prison and a fine of 5,000 to 50,000 Bulgarian Lev (EUR 2,556-25,564).
Source: Investor, 25 January 2012
The popular Irish television programme Primetime has highlighted the lack of protection for victims of forced labour and the urgent need for the government to address gaps in legislation which leave victims living in limbo for many years. One of the members of the Migrants Rights Centre Ireland’s (MRCI) Forced Labour Action Group spoke about his experiences and his on-going struggle to receive justice. He worked in a takeaway kitchen for seven years, where for the first two and half years, he was paid only €5,000. In September 2011 he was awarded €91,000 of unpaid wages by a labour court – but to date has not been paid.
Source: MRCI, 3 February 2012; Primetime, 2 February 2012
In Sacramento, California, migrant domestic workers and their children came to march in front of California’s capitol building on 24 January 2012 to raise awareness of their rights and the poor working conditions imposed on them. In 2011, the State Assembly passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights AB889 which if adopted, “would affect the 200,000 people who work in California domestic service, who are almost entirely women and immigrants or people of color”. The bill is still in the appropriations committee of the state Senate and still faces criticism particularly from business associations which provide the services of domestic workers.
Source: In these Times, 27 January 2012
A proposed piece of legislation in the state of Iowa would encourage anyone to report an employer suspected of hiring undocumented workers. The author of the bill said that the goal was to create a deterrent for undocumented workers and all verified complaints would be reported to the federal immigration officials, while employers could also lose their business license. The Iowa Attorney General has told lawmakers that it is not the role of state, county or local officials to enforce immigration law, and the attorney general's office would likely need more staff to cover the responsibilities outlined in the bill.
Source: Latino Fox News, 7 February 2012
David Beacon has written a chapter in the published book "Wisconsin Uprising - Labor Fights Back" (2012) entitled “Marching Away from the Cold War”. Beacon argues that migrants did not come to the US to break the law but to work and even though some may have arrived without visas they remain active contributors to the US economy and society. He discusses how over time May Day marches have been used by migrants to protest against their lack of human rights and the poor working conditions imposed on them. You can buy the book online here.
The City of Malmö has put aside SEK 75 000 (approximately EUR 8500) to cooperate with women’s shelters to develop better protection against violence for undocumented women and children. The aim is to support undocumented women (and their children) who have left a violent man, and for this reason risk their right to a residence permit.
Source: Malmö Fria Tidning, 1 February 2012
Undocumented Children and Their FamiliesTop
EUROPEAN COMMISSION / Public consultation on the right to family reunification open until 1 March 2012
The European Commission consultation aims to collect opinions on how to have more effective rules on family reunification at EU level and to provide factual information and data on the application of the Directive. Contributions from all EU institutions, national, regional and local authorities, candidate countries, third-country partners, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations are welcome. Period of consultation: from 15 November 2011 to 1 March 2012. Some EU civil society networks have taken an active role in consolidating and supporting civil society contributions. Please see European Women’s lobby toolkit and MPG webinar for further information.
Source: ENAR, 27 January 2012; Migration Policy Group, 24 January 2012
Following the latest school agreements within Milan municipality, kindergartens will open their doors to children of undocumented migrants. According to a circular that still need to be voted by the City Council, undocumented parents will also have the possibility, like other families to apply for kindergartens placed outside the neighbour where they live. Having a permit of residence is no longer required to register children to kindergartens, as was previously the case. The Italian Constitutional law protects children and ensures the right to an education for all, but the previous mayor refused to implement the law.
Source: La Repubblica, 2 February 2012
The Dutch Minister for Immigration, Gerd Leers, is to present plans to shorten asylum procedures as a way to reduce immigration. The Minister also said he is not in favour of issuing a general pardon for undocumented children, as proposed by some opposition parties, as he believes children are being used by some families to obtain a residence permit. So far 25 Dutch municipalities, including Amsterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven support the plea for a national pardon for undocumented children. 118,000 people have signed a petition in support of this, which will be offered to the Minister for Immigration following a parliamentary initiative by two parties. The proposed law would regularise those children who have been in the country for over eight years and have become rooted in Dutch society.
Source: PowNed, 27 January 2012; PZC, 6 February 2012
UN / New complaints procedure for violation of child rights officially adopted, campaign for ratification begins
An Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (OPCRC), which provides for a new complaints procedure for violations of the CRC, was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 19 December 2011. The new protocol will enable the Committee on the Rights of the Child to examine communications from children and their representatives as well as inter-State communications, and provides for an inquiry procedure for grave or systematic violations of children’s rights (see PICUM Bulletin 4 July 2011). The NGO Group for the CRC is launching a campaign to lobby States to sign/ratify the Optional Protocol at the official signing ceremony, which will likely be held on 28 February 2012 in Geneva. They are asking organisations to write to their Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice to encourage ratification, and have prepared a sample letter in French and English. More information is available here.
Source: NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 19 December 2011
USA / Undocumented migrants arrested during protest against law enforcement’s collaboration with immigration authorities
A dozen undocumented migrants were arrested during protests in the state of California during a protest against law enforcement collaborating with immigration authorities. Those arrested are part of a group called Immigrant Youth Coalition, an organization led by undocumented youth and allies fighting for immigrants’ rights, education and against criminalization. The protesters believe that the collaboration between the authorities is only resulting in the division of families. Traffic delays were caused as the protesters marched through the streets, chanting and holding signs that read “No papers no fear, immigrants are marching here,” and “Out of the shadows into the streets.”
Source: Fontana Herald News, 27 January 2012
An undocumented Guatemalan woman, whose child was adopted without her consent while she was in detention, is continuing her battle to regain custody of her child after the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the original decision to terminate her rights as a parent and ordered a retrial. Encarnación Bail Romero was arrested during an immigration raid of a poultry plant in 2007, and detained without the possibility to make care arrangements for her son Carlos, a U.S. citizen who was just six months old. Carlos was placed in the care of a couple when he was one year old and officially adopted by them when he was two. While in detention, Bail Romero was not allowed to participate in the custody case and her parental rights were terminated (see PICUM Bulletin 28 March 2011). Carlos is now five years old. The retrial will be held on 28 February 2012. The television show on ABC, ‘Nightline News and World Report with Diane Sawyer’, took up the story on 1 February 2012 and aired interviews with Bail Romero and the foster parents, the Mosers. Rinku Sen, President of the Applied Research Center also appeared on the show to discuss the report, "Shattered Families", which revealed that nearly 5,100 children are in care because their parents have been deported or detained (see PICUM Bulletin 7 December 2011). Watch the show on the ARC website.
Source: Hispanically Speaking News, 1 February 2012; ABC 2 News, 2 February 2012 ; Colorlines.com, 2 February 2012
USA / Sexual abuse in school opens discussion on what rights undocumented parents have in reporting and working with the authorities
It was announced that an elementary school in South Los Angeles will replace its entire faculty after two teachers were charged with 25 counts of lewd acts against students between 2005-2010. The school is located in a neighbourhood which is home to many migrants from Latin America and the student body is around 98% Latino. The assaults have led to concerns of whether or not parents feel safe coming forward, in fear of disclosing their immigration status, and talking to the authorities if their child became victim. An immigration attorney highlighted various points to consider if parents should decide to talk to the authorities. For example, it was noted that the Los Angeles Police Department did not ask for the immigration status of the victim or family, however the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which had jurisdiction over the school, did support the Secure Communities program and could ask for immigration status.
Source: Southern California Public Radio, 7 February 2012
In view of the publication of her book ‘Hinterland’, Caroline Brothers, a journalist who researches and reports on refugees, shares part of her story. The book tells the story of two cousins who walked five months from Kabul to Paris, a journey unknown numbers of Afghan children have made. Brothers shows the obstacles and choices the cousins face during the journey, and also once they reach Europe’s borders. Watch the audio slideshow linked to this article here and you can order the book by clicking here.
Source: The Guardian, 29 January 2012
Detention and DeportationTop
According to the findings of the report “Citizen’s monitoring in special homes for temporary accommodation of foreigners” financed by the Open Society Institute Sofia, irregular migrants in detention centres in Bulgaria are not informed about their rights within the detention centres and the subsequent procedures due to lack of professional interpreters. The report’s main conclusions are that the state authorities should consider opening special homes to house unaccompanied children and families with children and to appoint professional interpreters as staff in the detention centres. According to the report the average length of detention of foreigners in special homes for temporary detention in January-June 2011 was 64 days, which represents a significant reduction of the duration of detention compared to 2009, when the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee reported an average duration of 14-21 months. When a refugee or asylum seeker is detained and arrested at the border the refugee becomes criminalized said the representative of UNHCR in Bulgaria, Mr. Milagros Leynes, and therefore UNHCR state that such actions should be a last resort. The civil observation organized by the Open Society Institute Sofia, in collaboration with the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior on the basis of which the report was written, was conducted during January-June 2011 under the supervision of specially trained volunteers with knowledge of rare languages. They visited the detention centres of Busmantsi and Lybimets 21 times without prior notice and made interviews with 75 migrants, of which 16 were children. This type of monitoring was held for the first time and aims to trace the organization and the work of the employees with the foreigners; to monitor the extent to which legal norms to protect basic human rights are kept; and also to check the actual conditions of such temporary accommodation. Download the report here (only available in Bulgarian).
Source: Open Society Institute Bulgaria, 7 February 2012
The Netherlands have ruled that unsuccessful asylum seekers from Eritrea will no longer be forcibly returned because of reports of abuse, maltreatment and even death upon repatriation. They will be returned only if they wish to go back.
Source: RTL Niews, 27 January 2012
After several years of media silence, concerns about the deportation of apathetic children has again been raised by Swedish Television. The Left Wing party favours a small revision of the asylum law that could increase the possibility for children who are suffering from apathy to stay in Sweden. A mapping conducted by a human rights organisation (the Ethics Commission) has documented 30 children currently suffering from apathy syndrome who are at risk of deportation, for instance to the Balkans, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The head of the legal unit in the Migration Authority Mikael Ribbenvik said that usually these children are allowed to stay, but deportations are enforced when it is considered that the children can receive treatment in their country of origin.
Source: Norrländska Socialdemokraten, 21 January 2012; Sveriges Television, 26 January 2012 and 30 January 2012
The Global Detention Project and the Programme for the Study of Global Migration are co-organizing a public seminar on 8 March entitled "Detention of Immigrants: Enforcement, Non-compliance, and Punishment". Mr Daniel Wilsher, a senior lecturer at the University of London's City Law School and author of the 2011 book ‘Immigration Detention: Law, History, Politics’ (Cambridge), will give a presentation on the increasing use of detention to enforce immigration policy and the punitive character of this form of immigration control. The event will take place at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. For further information on this event please contact the Global Detention Project at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Detained Somali migrants, including women and children, have been on hunger strikes in a number of detention centres in the Ukraine since 5 January 2012. The migrants are on hunger strike to raise awareness of their situation and denounce the detention conditions, the harassment they face by the police, and repeated detention periods of 12 months imposed after short release periods. Following an incident on 30 January 2012 at the Zhuravychi Migrant Accommodation Centre where a police raid was carried out and certain detainees saw their belongings confiscated, Human Rights Watch have called for the Ukrainian authorities to stop harassing the detained Somali asylum seekers.
Source: Border Monitoring Project Ukraine, 16 January 2012; Eurasia Review, 1 February 2012
The Home Office has revealed that a total of 17 children were detained solely for immigration purposes in December 2011. Ten children, including five aged under five years-old, were held at Cedars "pre-departure accommodation" for unsuccessful asylum-seekers near Gatwick Airport. Another six children, including four aged under five, were detained at Tinsley House near Gatwick. A seventeenth child was held at Harmondsworth, near Heathrow. Although this is a significant reduction, from around 100 a month in 2009, the UK government is still falling short of its commitment to end child detention all together.
Source: The Independent, 27 January 2012; UK Home Office, 26 January 2012
USA / Investigation shows that thousands are still being held in detention although they did not commit a criminal offense
An investigative report revealed that on one single day in 2011, the United States government held 13,185 people in immigration detention. These people had not been convicted of a crime, and many had not even been charged with one. While immigration authorities decided the fates of detainees, around USD 2 million of taxpayer money was spent per day. The investigation shows that the numbers of people being detained is in stark contrast to the immigration policy goals stated by the Obama administration.
Source: Huffington Post, 27 January 2012
On 26 January 2012 during the Republican Presidential Debate, a number of candidates discussed and supported the idea of “self-deportation”, where undocumented migrants would simply leave the US voluntarily because life was too difficult (see PICUM Bulletin 1 February). The suggestion resulted in intense criticism from editorial writers, activists and politicians. Some cited the unlikelihood of such an action as nearly two-thirds of undocumented migrants had been living in the US for more than a decade. As well, it is reported that almost half of those that are undocumented have children, many of whom were born in the US and therefore are US citizens. Another article was written by an undocumented high school student who discussed his own experience and why his parents decided on “self-deportation”. Soon he will be finishing high school, but since he does not have his immigration papers, he may be unable to attend college because he will not be able to qualify for financial aid. He discussed the hopes that he had, along with the many other undocumented living in the US that the DREAM Act would be passed, allowing undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children to go to college and become citizens. He ended by noting that any sort of deportation was not a solution and would only result in the division of families and further driving people into the shadows. The Immigration Policy Center has released a report which explains why “self-deportation”, otherwise known as attrition through enforcement, does nothing to address the US national immigration concern. The report states that instead, such policies and strategies place an unprecedented legal, fiscal and economic burden on states and local communities.
Source: The New York Times, 1 February 2012; The Washington Post, 29 January 2012; America’s Voice, 6 February 2012; Immigration Policy Center, 6 February 2012
Publications and other ResourcesTop
SPAIN / GUIDE / Release of practical guide to inform undocumented migrants on their rights and obligations
Centro Pueblos Unidos, a PICUM member, and the Madrid Bar Association have published a report entitled “Illegal Stay: fine or expulsion?” The report offers updated, accessible and comprehensive information on migrants’ rights and obligations, as well as details on the types of offenses migrants may commit when they enter or stay irregularly in Spain. The report includes guidelines for migrants on how to defend themselves in case of detention, how to appeal a deportation order, and what measures they can take when their rights are violated whilst held in migrant detention centres (CIEs). The report is available in Spanish, English and French.
Source: Mesa de Convivencia de Vallecas, 13 October 2011
Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) is currently looking for French volunteer translators to help with translating various documents in preparation for the 5th World Social Forum on Migration, which will take place in Manila, Philippines from 26-30November 2012. Tasks of volunteers include translating the English text of the website (at least 8-10 pages), regular updates for website (1 page every 2 weeks) and communications to International Committee members (1 page every 2 weeks). For further information refer to the call for volunteers and interested applicants are requested to contact the MFA Secretariat c/o Ms.Tatcee Macabuag with a brief statement of interest at the following address: email@example.com.