PICUM Bulletin — 29 May 2012
- 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
An irregular migrant of Afghan origin died in his attempt to reach Italy. He was found dead in a ferry travelling from Patras, Greece, to Venice, Italy, on 2 May 2012. Two more Afghan undocumented migrants were found hiding inside the ferry on the way to Italy and were rescued by the Venice Coast Guard. One of the survivors was found in a precarious condition and thought to be at risk of dying.
Source: Adnkronos, 2 May 2012
A group of 56 irregular migrants were found in the south of Salento Italy on 10 May 2012. The group consisted of fifteen men, thirteen women and 28 children of Afghan, Kurdish and Iraqi origin. It appears that the group may have reached Italy by boat first. Two migrants were found in critical condition, dehydrated and in need of hospitalisation. The other migrants were brought to Don Tinino Bello’s reception centre in Otranto for identification procedures.
Source: La Repubblica, 11 May 2012
On 6 May 2012, François Hollande was elected as the new President of the French Republic. Following his election, Mr Hollande responded to a public letter that ‘France Terre d’Asile’ sent to all candidates before the vote with 31 proposals for a better policy on immigration and asylum. In his response, the French President noted that it was not necessary to explore alternatives to detention, but to keep detention as an exceptional measure and to end the detention of children and families. He added that he would attempt to improve the quality of asylum decisions, aim to ensure that asylum procedures last a maximum of six months and ensure that appeals are given a suspensive effect.
Source: ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 11 May 2012
At its annual Party Congress on 15 April 2012, the Irish Labour Party put forward a motion to support the regularisation of undocumented migrants in Ireland. The Conference noted that there are an estimated 30,000 undocumented migrants residing in Ireland, all of whom are living in a state of constant fear due to their unrecognized status. The conference proposed enacting an Earned Regularisation Scheme to provide a humanitarian solution to the problem. The proposed scheme would provide undocumented migrants the opportunity for permanent residence if they fulfil certain criteria such as working, paying taxes, and contributing to the community over a period of time.
Source: Irish Labour Party Website, 15 April 2012
The Council of Migrants, an association composed mainly of migrants of Sub-Saharan African origin living in Morocco, but also including some other nationalities and some Moroccan citizens, launched a campaign for the regularisation of undocumented migrants during the May 1st celebrations in Rabat. A group of more than 160 undocumented migrants from all over the country marched on the main streets of the Moroccan capital to end their peaceful demonstration in front of the Parliament. Their claims mirrored those of the Moroccan workers represented by the Democratic Trade Union (Organisation Démocratique du Travail) asking for respect for decent and fair working conditions for all workers. The campaign seeks to also bring attention to human rights abuses and violence constantly perpetuated against undocumented migrants. The Council of Migrants was funded in 2005 from a group of undocumented migrants who survived the event of Ceuta and Melilla.
Source: Association des Travailleurs Maghrébins de France, 3 May 2012
The figure of undocumented migrants participating in the regularisation programme surpassed the total number regularized in 2003 and 2007. The Office for Foreigners (Urząd do Spraw Cudzoziemców) estimates that till 18 April 2012 around 5,574 regularisation applications were submitted, whereas, two previous programmes brought just 5,541 requests. No other form of 'irregularity' disclosure gives quite so much detail on this phenomenon. In Poland, most undocumented migrants have settled down in the Capital Masovian Province followed by: Łódź Province, Lublin Province, Silesian and Lower Silesian Provinces. Statistically the most frequent countries of origin are: Vietnam, Ukraine, Pakistan, Armenia, The People's Republic of China, Egypt, India, Russian Federation, Belarus and Georgia. The vast majority of applicants, constituting around 97% of all cases, were in Poland continuously since 20 December 2007 and on 1 January 2012 were still recognized as undocumented migrants. Only 3% amid this group are individuals whose refugee application was unsuccessful. Those interested in obtaining further information on the regularisation programme can visit its official website: www.abolicja.gov.pl with the content now available in 4 languages: Polish, Russian, English and Vietnamese.
Source: Urząd do Spraw Cudzoziemców, 19 April 2012
Médecins du Monde has released a new report presenting the main findings drawn from data collected daily in their free health clinics in Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Munich, and Nice in 2011. Over half of the patients surveyed were undocumented migrants. The key concerns include lack of access to antenatal care, to vaccinations, and to primary healthcare. An average of 79% of pregnant women across the four cities was not able to access antenatal care. Almost half (46.2%) of the patients seen with pathologies requiring treatment were not receiving any treatment. As well as highlighting the main barriers to accessing health care (documentation required, costs, lack of information about their rights), the report also reveals that, for half of the population under study, housing was of a temporary or unstable nature, that 16% had no social or emotional support at all and that 10% to 40% had experienced one form of violence or another. Download the report here.
The Greek Health Ministry urged public hospitals to cut free medical care to irregular migrants. Health treatment of undocumented migrants has always been restricted to emergency care only, but in practice, Greek medical staff and doctors have always provided services to undocumented migrants disobeying to the law requirements. With a new directive (original text here) the Minister clarified which documents are required for each category of patients to receive treatment in public hospitals. According to this, irregular migrants will be excluded also from accessing HIV or other infectious disease treatment. Only refugees with a residence permit and asylum seekers will continue to benefit from free medical care. Doctors have reacted strongly against this new measure by announcing they will not relinquish their professional obligation to check the colour, sex, origin and legal documents of their patients before treating them. Doctors maintained that they will ignore the new measure announced by the Greek Minister of Health and keep their professional duty.
Source: Health View,8 May 2012 ; Ygeianews.gr, 14 May 2012; Zougla.gr, 10 May 2012
ITALY / Minister of Health in favour of the campaign “A paediatrician for every child, regardless of his or her status”
The new Italian Minister of Health, Renato Balduzzi, met on 12 May 2012 with the representatives of the Società Italiana di Medicina delle Migrazioni (Italian Society of Medicine of Migrations-SIMM), promoters of the campaign “Un pediatra per ogni bambino, a prescindere dallo status giuridico” (A paediatrician for every child, regardless of his or her status). The Minister agreed on the need to ensure that every child, even if in an irregular situation, has the right and practical possibility to choose his paediatrician, as it is the case for children with Italian nationality. This would guarantee the continuity of the care and avoid complex administrative procedures for undocumented children when accessing health care.
Source: SIMM, 12 May 2012
SPAIN / Government restricts health care for undocumented migrants and faces strong opposition from civil society and regional governments
On 20 April 2012 the Spanish government issued a Royal Decree-Act to amend the Foreigners Act (Ley de Extranjería), to restrict access to health care for irregular migrants (See PICUM Bulletin 9 May 2012). The Spanish parliament voted in favour of the the proposed new legislation on 17 May 2012 thus limiting access to health care services for irregular migrants in Spain to emergency, maternity and child care only. Ahead of the vote, a coalition of international, European and Spanish civil society and professional organisations, including PICUM and PICUM members, urged Spanish Members of Parliament to respect human dignity, public health needs and medical ethics by voting against the Decree-Act. Click here to view the campaign website of ‘NO al Real Decreto Ley 16/2012’. Download the press release here. Despite the Decree-Act, the Basque regional government has announced that it will continue to provide health care to undocumented migrants.
Source: diariovasco.com, 4 May 2012; El Economista, 17 April 2012
The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre is calling on the Immigration Minister to ensure that appropriate accommodation is provided for detainees who are mentally ill. In its 2011 Annual Report, the IMB says that detainees with mental health problems have floated between a healthcare ward and the segregation unit. Whilst there had been some improvements in healthcare in the second half of 2011, detainees have sometimes lived for a long time in the segregation unit, removed from association, in cells intended for short term use. In three cases (one since the report was written) the High Court has found that the continued detention of mentally ill detainees had subjected them to “inhuman or degrading treatment”. Download the report here.
Source: Migrants Rights Network Newsletter, 30 April 2012
Labour and Fair Working ConditionsTop
A new paper from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation examines the business structures, processes and pressures that may drive or facilitate the use of forced labour in the UK. The paper makes recommendations to the business community, government and trade unions and migrant community organisations, to help reduce exploitation. Findings indicate that forced labour is found in a number of sectors of the UK economy; intensification and pressure to reduce labour costs increases the risk of using forced labour; migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and high concentrations of migrant workers are found in the industries in the report; and that the use of subcontracted and agency labour in long supply chains can lead to less formal and more exploitative labour conditions with labour providers or agencies acting illegally. Download the report here.
Source: Migrants Rights Network Newsletter, 30 April 2012
Supporters of the rights of domestic workers in the UK have launched a petition calling on the coalition government to ratify the new ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. The Convention was adopted in June 2011 with the support of all but eight of the states which are members of the ILO. The group which abstained from voting in favour of the measure, includes the UK, Sudan, Malaysia, El Salvador, Panama, Singapore, the Czech Republic and Thailand. One other state, Swaziland, was alone in voting against the Convention. The Convention aims to end the exclusion of this mostly female and often migrant workforce from the labour and social protection measures which extend to the rest of the working population. The petition calls for the coalition government to drop its opposition to the incorporation of the Convention in UK law. Sign the petition here.
Source: Migrants Rights Network Newsletter, 30 April 2012
Worker shortages experienced by Alabama farmers have meant they have chosen to plant less, reported the Associated Press on 13 May 2012. In the autumn of 2011, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a new law to address irregular migration (See PICUM Bulletin 7 December 2012) which would directly impact businesses and particularly the agricultural sector, which relies heavily on irregular migrant workers. This is an issue of concern across the US for all sectors relying on migrant labour.
Source: Policymic, 13 May 2012
In California, a bill proposed in January 2012 by Assembly member V. Manuel Perez (D-Coachella) is currently being considered by the state legislature which would grant legal status to undocumented immigrants working in the agriculture and food service industries through a work permit - AB 1544. If approved by the State of California, there would be further obstacles at the federal level before the Bill is passed. The State would also have to provide a report to show that there is a lack of local labour to meet the labour needs of the agriculture and food service companies.
Source: Huffington Post, 14 May 2012
PICUM’s report “Strategies to End Double Violence Against Undocumented Women” will be launched at a roundtable event in the European Parliament on 21 June 2012. Informing readers about the realities of undocumented women experiencing violence, this report illustrates how initiatives to prevent, protect and prosecute gender based violence can be strengthened by including this group. A broad range of legislative, financial and practical measures from across Europe which help undocumented women to access support and justice are detailed. The launch of the report will be followed by a preview screening of the chapter on undocumented women of “Undocumentary”, an upcoming web-documentary on the daily realities faced by undocumented migrants in Europe produced by PICUM. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Swiss press has brought attention to a violent attack against an undocumented woman in Geneva. The attack had not been reported to the police due to her fear of deportation. The Latin American woman in her thirties was bludgeoned by a thief in the Grottes region of the city on 28 April. Geneva’s police service responded that their role was to protect everyone regardless of status and that victims should file complaints, yet affirmed that they must notify the immigration authorities about the presence of undocumented migrants. In cases of serious assault and forced labour, the immigration authorities would then have the discretion to issue a temporary residence permit. The LAVI Centre, a publically funded centre to support the implementation of the Federal Law on Assistance for Victims of Crime (Loi fédérale sur l’aide aux victimes d’infractions - LAVI), highlighted that the uncertain outcome means that undocumented migrants in Switzerland only file complaints in very severe cases but that reporting is vital to break the vicious circle of control.
Source: Tribune de Genève, 4 May 2012; Le Courrier, 21 May 2012
Human Rights Watch have highlighted the significant hurdles facing female farmworkers suffering from sexual abuse to obtain justice in the United States. Based on over 160 interviews, the report found that in addition to the hard labour conditions, female farm workers were exposed to rape, groping, and obscene language by abusive supervisors. “Instead of being valued for their contributions, immigrant farmworkers are subject to a dysfunctional immigration system and labour laws that exclude them from basic protections most workers take for granted” said Human Rights Watch. Calling on the government to protect migrants with the Violence Against Women Act, the organisation added that “Every day that it fails to enact immigration reform, Congress puts more farmworker women at risk of sexual abuse. The least Congress can do now is to reauthorize VAWA with stronger protections for immigrant women.”
Source: Human Rights Watch, 16 May 2012
The US Congress was still divided as to how to extend protection measure to undocumented migrants to benefit from the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Republicans argue that to combat migration fraud, the confidentiality clause must be weakened. Democrats however support a version of the Bill passed by the Senate in April 2012 which would maintain and protect the confidentiality of undocumented immigrants who fear reporting abuse or seeking help. The vote on 16 May 2012 resulted in the adoption of “a watered down VAWA” void of provisions included in the Senate version of the bill that protected Native American, undocumented immigrant and LGBT women.
Source: SunSentinel, 14 May 2012; Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2012; Indian Country Today Media Network, 20 May 2012
Undocumented Children and Their FamiliesTop
EU / 20 NGOs call the EU Member States and the European Commission to safeguard family life of migrants and refugees
On the International Day of Families, 15 May 2012, twenty organisations including PICUM, called on the European Commission and EU Member States to guarantee the effective right to family life and family reunification for all migrants and beneficiaries of international protection. Member States have the obligation to properly implement the EU Family Reunification Directive and to remove the many legal and practical obstacles to family reunion that exist today. While all Member States could improve their family reunification practices, a growing number are infringing the Directive’s minimum standards. In 2008, the European Commission published a report acknowledging that Member States were not in compliance with several articles in the Directive. Since then however, no legal action has been undertaken. Read the statement here.
On 2 May 2012 Fischer Advocaten won their test case in the Netherlands granting undocumented Kelvin the right to undertake an internship. Kelvin is a 21 year old currently studying Commercial Banking and Insurance at ROC Utrecht. He has almost completed his studies, save for the compulsory internship component of his training. He had successfully secured an internship at Triodos Bank, however owing to his undocumented status the Dutch Aliens Employment Act (Wav) prohibits him from taking up the internship. Kelvin sued the State asking for interim relief and a declaratory judgment that the State acted unlawfully in prohibiting him from partaking in a mandatory training which forms part of his diploma. Lawyers for Kelvin argued that under Article 2, Kelvin should enjoy the right to full education whilst he is in the Netherlands, regardless of his immigration status. Previous European Court of Human Rights judgments have established that the right to education under Article 2, includes the right to pursue a diploma after school. The court found that Dutch national law (Aliens Employment Act or WAV) is in violation of Article 2 of the 1st Protocol of the ECHR. Click here to view summary Judgment from Fischer Advocaten.
Source: Defence for Children, 2 May 2012; Elsevier, 2 May 2012
The ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford has released a new research report entitled ‘No Way Out, No Way In’ on irregular migrant children in the UK. The research aims to (1) draw a profile of the population of children without legal immigration status in the UK and looking at their rights and entitlements, (2) contribute to a better understanding of the everyday lives of irregular migrant children and investigate the factors that shape how their legal status impacts on their lives, (3) contrast migrants’ experiences of accessing their basic social rights with healthcare professionals, (4) contribute to the policy debate on irregular migrant children. The report was written by Nando Sigona, Research Associate at COMPAS and Senior Research Officer at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, and Vanessa Hughes, Research Assistant at the ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and society. Click here to view the report.
Source: Irregular Voices, 15 May 2012; The Economist, 19 May 2012
Detention and DeportationTop
Following an operation by the Cypriot Immigration office, nearly 60 Pakistani undocumented migrants were deported by police chartered flight on 4 May 2012. The majority of them entered the country through the occupied northern part of the island. The operation was 75 per cent funded by the EU Solidarity Fund and 25 per cent funded by the government. Around 200 Cypriot police and immigration officers accompanied the irregular migrants to Islamabad. Police said that the aim of the operation, conducted as part of FRONTEX’s action, was to repatriate Pakistani nationals who were residing irregularly in the Cyprus Republic, either in violation of their permit terms or by entering irregularly into the Cyprus Republic from non-controlled points.
Source: Phileleftheros, 4 May 2012; Cyprus Mail, 5 May 2012
A group of unsuccessful asylum seekers from Iraq who refused to return to their home country for fear of persecution have set up tents close to the Dutch repatriation centre at Ter Apel. Later dozens of Iranian and Somali asylums seekers who had their applications rejected joined the camp, as did a large group of protesters. Though the Minister for Immigration, Gerd Leers, has said that the camp is not sustainable, he has made sure that sanitary facilities have been provided for.
Source: Elsevier, 15 May 2012
The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) has described the conditions children are being held in at Heathrow Airport as “small and stuffy”. The UKBA describes the conditions that children are held in overnight as ‘degrading and disgraceful’ claiming that it is the Heathrow operator BAA who has offered poor quality accommodation. The Report recommends that non-custodial, child-friendly accommodation is provided at Heathrow for families with children as a matter of urgency.
Source: BBC News, 14 May 2012
On 27 April 2012 Immigration officials announced that migrants arrested for minor traffic violations will no longer be flagged for possible deportation proceedings before being convicted. The news came as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s response to a federally appointed task force report released in September 2012 which recommended changes to the agency’s Secure Communities Immigration Enforcement Programme. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has moved to adopt several of the task force’s recommendations. Currently, Secure Communities sends the fingerprints of anyone who is booked into a local or county jail to federal immigration officials. This information can then be used to ‘flag’ someone for immigration detention. Fingerprint data is shared even if that person is never charged with an offence or is ultimately acquitted of the crime. The proposed policy will only apply to those who have an otherwise ‘clean’ criminal record, and will not extend to those who have previously been arrested for hit and run, reckless driving resulting in injury, or arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Migrant rights experts have called this step an insufficient one. Download the ICE response to Task Force on Secure Communities Findings and Recommendations here.
Source: Colorlines, 3 May 2012
The U.S. Department of Human Services’ Division of Unaccompanied Children’s Services has reported a 77% increase in the number of children in its care. On 7 May 2012 the Wall Street Journal also reported that between October 2011 and April 2012 the U.S. government had detained more than 6500 unaccompanied children. U.S. officials say this figure is double that compared to the previous year.
Source: National Journal, 11 May 2012
Publications and other ResourcesTop
On 20 April 2012 Frontex published its 2012 Annual Risk Analysis. The purpose of the report is to assess threats and vulnerabilities at the EU’s external borders in order to plan operational activities in 2013. The report notes Greece and Turkey as areas of key concern in 2013. The report also notes the risk of large numbers of irregular border-crossings at the Southern maritime border on the Central Mediterranean route due to its proximity to Tunisia, Libya and Egypt and anticipated crossings based on humanitarian grounds. Click here to view the report.
Source: Migrants at Sea, 10 May 2012
An article on EU migratory policies entitled “Nada para los nadie” (Nothing for the Nobodies) by Mr. Javier de Lucas, Professor of Philosophy of Law and Political Philosophy and Director from the Cité Universitaire Internationale in Paris, was released on 29 April 2012. The paper discusses the measures adopted by the Spanish Government on 20 April 2012 on restricting health care access to irregular migrants living in Spain. The author claims that this measure is part of a “purely instrumental view” that shapes migratory policies, pushing migrants into “subordiscrimination” and converting them into “infra-subjects”. The report finishes by presenting a number of arguments to counteract the justification of the measure, which Mr De Lucas regards as demagogic in itself. Amongst these counter arguments, he highlights the strategy of linking the economic crisis with the presence of immigrants. This strategy has been adopted by the measure’s supporters and overlooks the role of neo-liberal agencies in imposing both austerity reforms and public resource cuts to Spain. The article can be accessed in both English and Spanish.
Source: Pensamiento crítico, 29 April 2012; Critical Legal Thinking, 8 May 2012
Since the end of February 2011, 790,000 migrant workers and their families have crossed the Libyan border into other countries to escape the conflict and on-going violence in Libya. Although migration crises of this kind are not new, the massive outflow of migrants fleeing the violence in Libya represents one of the largest migration crises in modern history. “Migrants Caught in Crisis: The IOM Experience in Libya” analyses the effect that the Libyan crisis has had on migrants caught in the crisis and the wider implications for migration in the region, based primarily on the experience of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the evacuation, return and reintegration of migrant workers from Libya. Click here for further information.
Save the Children Italy, A.S.G.I. - Associazione Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione, Università Roma Tre, EPLO European Public Law Organization and the Universidad Pontificia Comillas are organizing a conference entitled “Access to Justice for Children at risk of social exclusion”. The conference will take place on 18 June 2012 in Brussels. The conference is part of the framework of the European Project "Minor Rights". The results of 18 months of research on access to justice for children at risk of social exclusion that has been conducted in Italy, Spain and Greece for this project will be shared at the conference. The conference will also present recommendations to the UN, EU and national institutions. To register please click here. The deadline for registration is 10 June 2012. For further information, please contact Silvia Taviani, Advocacy Officer at Save the Children Italy (email@example.com)
SMES-Europa, together with Roman Organisations and Associations working in the field of social and health issues are organizing the XIII EUROPEAN FORUM which will be held in Rome on 10-12 December 2012. The key themes of the Forum are homelessness and mental health. The aim of the event is “exchange to change” by providing a space for exchange of information and learning about innovative practices to develop key priorities to tackle the issue of the homeless living on the streets with mental health problems. Click here to view the invitation.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the British Council are holding a joint event on “Dispelling Myths about Migration” on 29 May 2012 in Geneva. The objective of the event is to provide a space for exchange and dialogue to develop new approaches to re-depict migration and to identify which actors have a role to play in dispelling migration myths. The event is open to UN permanent missions, international organisations, NGOs, the academic community as well as to the public at large. If you wish to attend please confirm your attendance with a short email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
IOM will be holding its second International Dialogue on Migration of 2012 on “Protecting migrants during times of crisis: immediate responses and sustainable strategies” in Geneva on 13 and 14 September 2012. When countries of destination experience crises, natural disasters and war, their migrant populations often have little means to escape and ensure their own safety. The plight of migrants during crises is exacerbated when they are in an irregular situation in the country of destination, and when their home countries lack the capacity and resources to protect and assist their nationals abroad. The workshop will focus on measures to protect and assist affected migrants in times of crisis and beyond. It is open to government officials, NGO practitioners, academics and others. More information will soon be available at www.iom.int/idmmigrantsincrisis. A first workshop in the same series, “Moving to Safety: Migration Consequences of Complex Crises” took place on 24 and 25 April 2012. Workshop materials and the outcome document are available here.
Commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy, the website Digital Undoc was launched on 12 May 2012. The site aims to use digital technologies to bring information to undocumented young people and children. This project is part of the Supported Options Initiative which is a two year initiative which aims to improve the lives of young people with irregular immigration status. Digital Undoc propose to organise an ‘Undoc Camp’, a social innovation camp in London in July 2012. The aim is to bring together developers, web designers, innovators, and experts in the field with first-hand experience of the issue at hand, to come together and share and develop strategies on how to fill the information gap. The best ideas will receive funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and/or other funders who will be there to hear the final pitches. Click here to access the Digital Undoc website.