PICUM Bulletin — 14 March 2012
- United Nations
- Health Care
- Labour and Fair Working Conditions
- Undocumented Children and Their Families
- Detention and Deportation
- Publications and other Resources
- Other News
- European Policy Developments
The dead body of an irregular female migrant of African origin, aged between 18-25 years, was found on 21 February 2012 near the village of Amorio, close to Orestiada city. It appears the woman died due to severe weather conditions on her attempt to leave Turkey through the Evros River. The body of an irregular migrant of Egyptian origin was found in a warehouse on 29 February 2012 in the area of Korinthia. This man was trying to find a shelter in order to avoid the very low temperatures of the night but finally did not survive.
Source: Clandestina, 25 February 2012; Infomobile, 21 February 2012; Skai, 21 February 2012; Protothema, 1 March 2012; Inews.gr, 1 March 2012
Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Cancellieri, and Minister of Integration, Mr Riccardi, visited Lampedusa Island on 1 March 2012 in preparation for and anticipation of an emergency flood of migrants to the island. 50,000 irregular migrants from North Africa reached Lampedusa during the first half of 2011. Minister Cancellieri stated that the reception centre in Contrada Imbriacola, which set on fire in September 2011, will remain closed because it is still unusable. Save the Children pointed out that the migration emergency never really abated but the migration flows have been directed mainly to Apulia and Calabria regions rather than to Lampedusa Island.
Source: Lettera 43, 2 March 2012
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay presented the annual report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 2 March 2012. Calling 2011 a critical year, Ms Pillay called on countries to increase measures to protect human rights. Ms Pillay also focused on the rights of migrants, calling on Member States to explore alternatives to immigration detention that do not violate refugees’ rights, especially those of children. She opposed the criminalization of irregular migration. Ms Pillay drew attention to the human rights violations experienced by migrants in the context of the Arab Spring, and their vulnerability. The High Commission for Human Rights also welcomed the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights against Italy’s violation of international human rights law when collectively expelling migrants intercepted on the high seas in 2009.
Source: UN News Centre, 2 March 2012
European Policy DevelopmentsTop
In November 2011, the European Commission (EC) presented the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). Based on the expertise of its network, PICUM has put forward comments in relation to the second pillar of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility: preventing and reducing irregular migration and trafficking in human beings and other issues concerning labour migration and the rights of migrants. To view PICUM's comment, please click here.
Source: PICUM, 13 March 2012.
In a health care clinic in Gothenburg which is open to undocumented migrants, an optician visits once a month from the organization ‘Vision for All’ in order to conduct eye examinations and provide eyeglasses. The health care clinic, which is operated by Rosengrenska since 1998, is open every week and most of the people that receive services are living undocumented in Sweden. This article describes the work of the volunteer optician and some of the situations that he comes into contact with, such as providing reading classes for a young child who is undocumented in the country because his family’s application for asylum was refused. The article, “Optician helps undocumented migrants” is available through the link below, on page 20-23 and is in Swedish.
Source: Optik, March 2012; Rosengrenska, 28 February 2012
The United Kingdom Department of Health has announced that it will soon make HIV treatment free for all who need it, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. While the change may be politically controversial, ministers are justifying it on the grounds of public health. For a number of years, treatment of other sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis and malaria has been free to all, regardless of normal rules on entitlement to NHS services. HIV treatment will now be provided in the same way, as long as the person seeking treatment has been in the UK for at least six months.
Source: Aidsmap, 28 February 2012
Labour and Fair Working ConditionsTop
Belgium is among the few countries in the EU who have not yet transposed the Directive that proposes minimum penalties on employers hiring undocumented workers and gives workers the possibility to claim unpaid wages, even if it concerns work in the black economy. The Belgian Minister of Labour has said that as a new law on personal accountability has been implemented, the Directive should be transposed in late April or May.
Source: De Standaard, 27 February 2012
Following the failure of three Member States, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden, to implement the Employer Sanctions Directive into national law, the European Commission (EC) has decided to advance infringement proceedings and issue reasoned opinions requesting them to meet their obligations. The EC has also decided to withdraw the proceedings against Austria, Germany, France and Malta who after being late, finally implemented the Directive. The aim of the Directive is to curb irregular migration by imposing conditions which all employers must apply when employing third-country nationals.
Source: European Commission, 27 February 2012
The Ecologist Magazine carried out a field investigation into the treatment of migrant workers, many of whom are undocumented, in the citrus agricultural sector in Rosarno, in Calabria, southern Italy. The result is visible in a video which shows clearly the exploitation and poor living conditions of these migrant workers. The release of the video was followed-up with an article which challenged drinks firms purchasing the orange ingredient, such as Coca-Cola, for upholding such appalling working and living conditions to produce drinks such as Fanta. Coco-Cola denies any wrong doing but following the publication of the Ecologist investigation, has undertaken steps to address this issue.
Source: The Ecolologist, 24 February 2012 and 28 February 2012
The UK’s Home Secretary Theresa May has announced changes to the visa rules for foreign domestic workers which will prevent foreign cooks, nannies and other staff who come to the UK to work in private household’s from switching employer or staying longer than six months. The new rules will take effect on 6 April 2012. Opponents to the changes believe that this legislation will worsen the situation for domestic workers and give them less power if they are experiencing abuse by their employer. In addition, unscrupulous employers will now have the power to threaten workers with deportation if they do not comply with every demand made of them. It was reported that more than half of the 93 people, mostly women, who were rescued last year after being trafficked into the country for domestic work managed to transfer to a new employer. The new legislation however prevents such changes. Organizations such as Kalayaan and Anti-Slavery International are urging people to alert their Member of Parliament of the worrying changes in legislation.
Source: The Independent, 4 March 2012; The Guardian, 29 February 2012; Kalayaan, March 2012
Undocumented Children and Their FamiliesTop
The Migrants Rights Centre Ireland-MRCI held a forum on the topic of access to education for children of non EU immigrants. It discussed barriers that children of non EU migrants are facing to access university education, such as the inability to access higher education grants. Additionally, the high level of fees means that many families struggle to pay for education. The Forum took place on Sunday, 11 March 2012 in Dublin.
Source: Migrants Rights Centre Ireland-MRCI, 27 February 2012
Dozens of Dutch municipalities have passed motions in favour of a general pardon for children, although as local government actors, these motions don’t have the weight of law behind them. Many children, upon turning 18, are forced to leave, despite having grown up in the Netherlands. The plea from local governments, after an initiative from a Member of Parliament, stemmed from the case of 18 year old Mauro Manuel who was originally forced to leave despite seven years in the country. This caused major uproar in Dutch politics and society (See PICUM Bulletin 17 January 2012).
Source: Culemborgse Courant, 6 March 2012; ENAR, 2 March 2012; DutchNews.nl, 27 February 2012
The Children's Society says it has seen a "noticeable rise" in the numbers of destitute child migrants seeking its help. In response, it commissioned a report entitled "I Don't Feel Human", which documents young people's experiences and reveals alarming levels of destitution among refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children and young people. The Children's Society's policy director, Enver Solomon, said these children were being treated as if they had some kind of "second-class status" but the UK Border Agency and local authorities still had a duty to safeguard them. "We estimate that thousands of children exist in the shadows of our communities, having their lives damaged by an approach that irresponsibly prioritises immigration control above the best interests of children," he said. The Children’s Society is calling for immediate action to make sure that children and young people in the immigration system are not forced to live in destitution. Download the report (EN) here.
Source: BBC News, 24 February 2012; The Children’s Society, 24 February 2012
In an interview with the Oakland, California-based Radio Bilingue that was rebroadcast 22 February 2012 via Internet, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Congress to take one step toward overhauling the country’s immigration system by passing the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for some children of undocumented migrants. The DREAM Act, which was passed in the House of Representatives in December 2010, has stalled in the Senate.
Source: Hispanically Speaking News, 22 February 2012
USA/ One of the student body presidential candidates for Texas A & M University is an openly undocumented migrant. Jose Luis Zelaya’s immigration status is well known at the university – in April 2011, he stood in a plaza on campus, in the same spot where the election commission will announce the student body president election results, and shared his story of coming to the U.S. irregularly aged 14 from Honduras in order to escape an abusive, alcoholic father. Although the campus is one of the nation's most conservative, where some student leaders have attracted national media attention for vocal opposition to a Texas law that allows certain undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition, Naila Dhanani, the opinion editor for the college newspaper, said Zelaya "definitely has a chance" of winning the election, and his fellow presidential candidates have demonstrated solidarity, choosing not to raise his immigration status as an issue.
Source: The Houston Chronicle, 28 February 2012
A bill passed by the Georgia Senate would ban undocumented students from attending Georgia’s public colleges and universitie. Politicians in favour of the bill argued that undocumented students were a burden on taxpayer-funded education, even when they pay out of state tuition rates. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Loudermilk, believes that college places are being taken away from US citizens and given to undocumented students who would not be able to work in the country legally after graduation. Opponents of the legislation say that the bill is unnecessary since the state university system in Georgia already has a policy that does not allow undocumented students to attend its five most competitive universities. Groups such as the ACLU of Georgia, Freedom University and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights gathered at the state capitol to protest against the legislation and draw attention to the fact that the state may lose a number of bright students who will look for opportunities in other states.
Source: Chicago Tribune, 5 March 2012; 90.1 FM Public Radio WABE, 28 February 2012; The Huffington Post, 23 February 2012
USA / Group of Silicon Valley technology leaders offer funding to help undocumented youths attend college
Once undocumented students graduate from high school, many are unable to attend college due to their inability to access financial aid or the necessity to pay out-of-state tuition fees, even though they reside in the state. A group of Silicon Valley technology leaders are funding efforts to help undocumented youths attend college and find jobs despite their legal status. The focus for the Silicon Valley philanthropists is Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), a non-profit which gives scholarships, career advice and legal services to students that were brought to the US as children and are still living undocumented. The organization has been working in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2006 and also creates educational materials to raise awareness. The Silicon Valley fund is part of a broader response by individuals and states to Congress, which hasn’t yet passed the ‘Dream Act.’ The federal legislation would offer a path to legalization for undocumented students who graduate from a US high school and attend college or join the military.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, 6 March
The Guide “Life After College” is made specifically for undocumented students who may feel that they have limited options after graduating college, however, the guide sheds light on a number of possibilities that exist. It discusses graduate school, professional studies, internships, tips for interviewing, as well as the steps to follow if considering becoming an independent contractor. As well, it includes personal narratives, student testimonials and advice from experts. The Guide was released in 2012 by Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) and is one of a number of resources available on their website which offers advice and guides for undocumented students, as well as school counsellors and student advocates.
Source: Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), March 2012
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has released a report which provides an overview of its activities in relation to the protection of separated migrant children and its support for this group. The paper also benefits from a review of existing international standards and policy frameworks as well as recent research conducted on the topic of separated migrant children. In line with the increased attention paid to child migration as part of a larger phenomenon of family migration, transnational families and family reunification, the work of IOM has substantially grown in relation to providing assistance to children on the move, particularly those who are unaccompanied. Download the report (EN) here.
Source: International Organisation for Migration
Detention and DeportationTop
The Jesuit Refugee Centre Belgium (JRS) and the Centre for Liberation Theologies held an expert seminar at the end of February after a report was published on the difficulties of people in closed detention centres. The two centres point to the vulnerability of people in those centres and they believe detention should be a last resort. They also mention how some people are treated like criminals and how their perception is influenced by mass media referring to them as ‘illegal’. The JRS estimates there are about 120.000 undocumented migrants in Belgium, while figures point to a total of 7000 people in the country’s five detention centres.
Source: Veto.be, 5 March 2012
An online initiative called “Getting the voice out” aims at gathering stories and testimonies from people detained in detention centres in Belgium to ensure that they are given a space to make their voices heard to the outside world. By distributing these stories, the objective is to raise awareness of the harsh reality these detainees face on a daily basis in a country that calls itself democratic. The website is available in three languages: French, Dutch and English. This requires a lot of work and the coordinators are constantly looking for volunteer interpreters; if you are interested please contact email@example.com.
A seven-year old child, Phatteera, who was scheduled for deportation because she was deemed unable to integrate in Denmark under the current immigration rules, has had her deportation suspended until her appeal is finalized. This will probably allow for her case to be considered under the new, less restrictive immigration rules. If deported, she would be separated from her mother, sister and Danish step-father. The rejection of her application for residency, and of many others in similar cases, was based on the rule allowing the Immigration Service to deny residency to children whose parents waited more than two years before sending for them from their countries of origin. The new Government had originally claimed that it could not halt the deportation of children whose residency applications had been refused under the current rules, even though they would likely be accepted under the proposed revised law. However, there has been much public and media attention on a couple of cases, including Phatteera’s, and the suspension of deportation in two of these indicates the government may have relaxed its position.
Source: Migration News Sheet, February 2012 (members only)
The administrative tribunal has released a father and his two children, a two-year-old and an eight-year-old, from detention in the Pamandzi detention centre in Mayotte, in a ruling on 20 February 2012. The tribunal found the conditions of detention of a nature undermining human dignity, not only for the children concerned because of the administrative detention of their parents, but also for the whole family, and thus the detention amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, as prohibited by Article 3 European Convention Human Rights.
Source: La Cimade, 23 February 2012
A network of churches, civil society organisations and a political party in Rotterdam have handed a petition to Parliament to plea for a more humane treatment of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in detention centres. Connie van den Broek of the Rotterdam Ongedocumenteerden Steunpunt (Support Centre for Undocumented Migrants) claims that people are often detained as criminals, while it has become stricter and people have become detained for longer.
Source: Radio 1, 28 February 2012; Rotterdam SP, 28 February 2012
The three Supervision Courts of the Aluche Migrant Detention Centre (CIE) issued a writ (Governmental Record 286/2012) on 27 February 2012, which obligates the centre’s authorities to give detained migrants prior notice of their expulsion order –day, time and destination- of at least 12 hours. Before the record, migrants were not informed about the day of their expulsion, but just taken to the airport on the same day without providing them any information of either the city or destination country. Quoting the magistrates ‘they were left to their own devices on the destination country’, without any possibility to inform their relatives and friends or make arrangements for their arrival. Judges ruled that both the right to information and the right to be treated with dignity and compassion were infringed by the procedure before the writ was issued. The judicial decision has been taken as a result of numerous complaints filed by organisations such as SOS Racismo, Ferrocarril Clandestino and Centro Pueblos Unidos, a PICUM member, on behalf migrants held in the centre.
Source: Para Inmigrantes, 1 March 2012
A global campaign to end the immigration detention of children will be launched on 21 March 2012 at the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. With this date coming up, the International Detention Coalition has sent out a call for organisations to join the campaign. Individuals interested will be able to support the campaign once it has been officially launched. The aim of the campaign is to denounce the default use of child detention, yet also to offer solutions and share good practices. Organisation can formally join the campaign by completing the online endorsement form. If you are interested but need more information, please contact IDC directly at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: International Detention Coalition
Following the dispositions issued by Minister of Home Affairs Cancellieri, journalists have been granted access to the Centre for Identification and Expulsion (CIE) in Bologna, a right previously denied to them under Minister of Home Affairs Maroni. Undocumented migrants were interviewed and spoke of their condition at the CIE as worse than in prison. They may be left waiting for up to 18 months before being freed, moved to a different centre, or expelled from the country. Gloria, from Nigeria, has AIDS and a fibroma. She is afraid to be deported to her country of origin where she thinks she would be left to die, but she can no longer resist in the centre. Bologna’s CIE comprises 85 beds and currently hosts 50 males and 18 females.
Source: La Repubblica, 28 February 2012.
Publications and other ResourcesTop
USA / REPORT / Report finds that undocumented immigrants in the US remain in the country despite strict laws
The report, “Staying put but still in the shadows” looks at various anti-immigration bills which have been introduced in a number of states and whether or not the bills have led to undocumented migrants leaving the US as the bills promised. Through research and interviews, the report states that most undocumented immigrants decided to stay in the country, despite the attempts of harsher legislation. In fact, it was found that most of the laws push immigrants from one state to the next or simply further isolate them in their communities. The report shows that policies of enforcement and harsh anti-immigrant laws do not lead to large-scale resettlement but they do complicate the relationships between local law enforcement officials, political leaders, and immigrant communities, to the detriment of all three.
Source: Center for American Progress, February 2012
In November 2011, Migreurop released a report entitled “At the margins of Europe: externalisation of migration controls” on externalization of migration controls in Europe. This report is now available in English; please click here to view it. The Spanish version will be available in March 2012.
Source: Migreurop, 24 February 2012
i-RED, a PICUM member in Greece, will be launching the RED Early Warning System and Atlas of Racism, Discrimination and Equality on 19 March 2012 at the Eurocities office in Brussels. PICUM Director, Michele LeVoy will be on the afternoon panel on “the RED system looking into the future”. The RED portal is a map-based, user friendly independent tool providing a birds’ eye overview and comparative insight of the situation regarding racism, xenophobia and discrimination against migrants and minorities, as well as positive policy initiatives promoting equality in different EU member States. Please refer to the launch invitation for further information on this event and the project itself. To register please email Mr Konstantinos Prearis at the following address: Kostas.Prearis@-red.eu.
The Ligue des droits de l’Homme (Human Rights League) and Bruxelles Laïque are organising a Colloquium entitled “Freedom of movement: from the requirement to reality. The Impact on the labour market and social security systems” on 23 March 2012 in Brussels”. Following a first Colloquium in October 2011, it emerged that some key objections to the right to the freedom of movement were embedded within the socio-economic debate. This second event aims at discussing these objections further in depth. Click here to access the programme for the day and for further information visit the website of the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme.
NETHERLANDS / Open invitation to join the discussion on the criminalization of undocumented migrants
A network of organizations which work on migration and human rights will meet in the Hague on 21 March 2012 in order to discuss current legislation in the Netherlands which criminalizes undocumented migrants. The discussion titled “The Hague, city of Peace and Justice for all residents?” will take place at the Institute of Social Studies on Kortenaerkade 12 from 19:30-22:00. Further information and the program for the evening will be available on the website.
Migrant Rights’ Network (MRN), a PICUM member, is celebrating its five years of existence with an event on 15 March 2012 in London to launch its report “PROGRESS: 2006-2011”. Please register online if you are interested in attending this event.
Source: MRN 20 Feburary 2012.
RADAR, Umtapo and United for International Action are organizing an international training entitled “Your Power, Our Power - Empowerment as a means to promote active citizenship and inclusive societies”. The Your Power, Our Power training is an empowerment training for educators, trainers, students, and social activists who want to learn methods and approaches that empower disenfranchised and socially or economically disadvantaged people including migrants, refugees and the unemployed. The aim is for social action to create a fair society without discrimination and inequality. The training will take place over five days between 2 and 7 September 2012. The deadline for application is 6 April 2012. There is the possibility to apply for a grant to cover the fees, travel and accommodation costs from the Grundtvig mobility grant. To find out more about the training please download the Information leaflet, pre-application form and Comenius - Grundtvig Training Database
In order to maintain PICUMs global reach, volunteer translators and proof-readers are needed to assist in the production of PICUMs bi-monthly news bulletin, our Quarterly newsletter and the PICUM website which is translated into seven languages (EN, FR, NL, DE, ES, IT, PT). At the moment, we are particularly looking for English proof-readers and French and Spanish translators. We welcome you to sign up to become a volunteer on www.picum.org.