PICUM BULLETIN — 16 APRIL 2012

BORDERS

  • GREECE / Death of irregular migrant in Evros

    Greek police discovered the dead body of an irregular migrant on 29 March 2012 in an advanced state of decay, in the rural area of Tichero, in Evros Prefecture. The body was transferred to the General University Hospital of Alexandroupoli for the autopsy.
    Source: Agelioforos, 30 March 2012 ; Clandestina, 31 March 2012

EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS

  • COUNCIL OF EUROPE / REPORT / Publication of PACE report on deaths in the Mediterranean

    PACE’s Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons adopted on 29 March 2012 a report submitted by Tineke Strik on the failure to react to distress calls of a boat carrying 72 people which led to the deaths of 63 people fleeing the conflict in Libya by sea during a tragic fifteen -day voyage in March 2011. The report states that “NATO failed to react to distress calls in a military zone under its control” where a Spanish and Italian vessel were present. The PACE report concludes that “Many opportunities of saving the lives of the persons on board were lost”. The Committee has demanded that NATO investigate further the incident and called on the European Parliament to request further information. The report is due to be debated at the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly, on Tuesday 24 April (date to be confirmed).Click here to view full report.
    Source: Council of Europe, 29 March 2012; The Guardian, 29 March 2012; The Guardian, 28 March 2012

  • EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT / PICUM NEWS / Joint Statement on protection of undocumented victims of crime

    PICUM, together with La Strada International, released a statement on the proposal of a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime on 20 March 2012. While pleased with certain elements of the proposal, such as the delinking of support and practical assistance from the decision to report a crime, prevention of secondary and repeated victimisation and individual assessment mechanisms for vulnerable victim identification, the organisations expressed their concerns about the significant shortcomings in the text of the proposal. The proposal failed to address the specific situation of migrants with an insecure migration status and thus did not guarantee equal access to justice and protection mechanisms for all victims of crime. The statement provided arguments and recommendations for the inclusion of victims with an insecure migration status in the scope of victims’ protection mechanisms.  Echoing these concerns, on 28 March 2012, the LIBE Committee members of the European Parliament (EP) inserted an amendment saying that all victims of crime should be protected under this directive, regardless of their legal status. Negotiations with the Council are now on-going with the aim of reaching a first-reading agreement in view of the EP plenary session vote. View the joint statement and the press release of the LIBE Committee

  • FRONTEX / Launch of Frontex Observatory

    Statewatch has launched a Frontex Observatory to provide information on the work and function of Frontex including some analysis and updated news about the activities of the agency. This initiative is aimed particularly at researchers, civil society organisations, academics, students, journalists, lawyers and parliamentarians. Click here to access the website.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • FRANCE / Intensification of raids, arrests and evictions of undocumented migrants

    There was a noticeable escalation in the frequency and intensity of police raids on migrant squats, arbitrary arrests, evictions and house demolitions in Calais in March. On two successive nights, police evicted 35 migrants from the dilapidated prefab buildings in the avenue Blériot known as Africa House, and then raided the food distribution centre where some of the evicted migrants had camped, destroying their tents and confiscating their belongings. Since then there have been two more evictions from various squats and camps around the city. The authorities have also increased their checks and controls along the truck depots beyond the city near Dunkerque, where a shifting population of some 400-odd migrants en route to the UK have attempted to stay in order to escape the police harassment in the city.
    Source: Inter Press Service, 22 March 2012

  • GERMANY / Court rules in favour of “racial profiling“ in search for undocumented migrants

    The administrative court in Koblenz issued a judgment on 27 March 2012 in which it confirms that the police practice of checking people on the basis of their skin colour and appearance without any concrete suspicion is legal. To detect breaches of residence law, police officers carry out spot checks (in trains, in train stations, in areas close to the borders) based on physical appearance among other factors. The court sentence was passed in reaction to a claim filed by someone who had become the target of such scrutiny.  Deutsche Institut für Menschenrechte (German Institute for Human Rights) criticised the police practice as being in violation of basic and human rights.
    Source: taz, 28 March 2012

  • IRELAND / Fingal County Council passes motion for the regularisation of undocumented migrants

    On 12 March 2012, Fingal County Council unanimously passed a motion to support the Introduction of an Earned Regularisation for Undocumented Migrants in Ireland. The motion drew cross-party support and the councillors acknowledged the plight of undocumented migrant workers. Fingal County Council joins Dublin City Council and South Dublin County Council in the passage of the motion (see PICUM Bulletin 15 February 2012 and 17 January 2012).
    Source: Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), 27 March 2012

  • ITALY / Hundreds of undocumented migrants victims of fraud

    Hundreds of undocumented migrants have fallen victim to a fraud, allegedly originated online, which led  migrants to believe that their irregular status could be regularised by presenting papers at Rome’s local office for migration. The NGO Forum Delle Comunità Straniere in Italia has been requesting payment of twenty Euros from everyone who wanted to be regularized in exchange for a paper stating that the person had his or her domicile at the organization’s address. According to the NGO this would have helped the irregular migrants with their paper work at the immigration office. The fraud resulted in hundreds of undocumented migrants being uncovered and identified. Some of the victims have received decrees to be expelled from the national territory, others have been sent to other offices, while children have been sent to reception centres for the under-aged, and pregnant women have been authorised to remain in the country while pregnant.
    Source: La Repubblica, 21 March 2012

  • NETHERLANDS / STUDY / Study on jurisdiction of mayors in dealing with undocumented migrants

    The Minister for Migration and the mayor of a small Dutch town agreed to a study on the competences and jurisdiction of mayors regarding the expulsion of undocumented migrants, after the town mayor had prohibited police from assisting in the repatriation of an Afghani man as he suspected his wife of possible suicidal tendencies. According to the Minister, mayors only have a task in security and safety with the Minister solely responsible for using the police force in the interests of the State. In response to the discussion forty other municipalities have written a petition in support of the mayor.
    Source: NU.nl, 3 April 2012

  • USA / New legislation in Georgia would deny undocumented migrants from receiving marriage licenses or access to water and sewage

    Lawmakers in the state of Georgia are considering a bill that would remove foreign passports from a list of identification documents that government agencies can accept. The bill would prohibit undocumented migrants from getting marriage licenses or access to water and sewage, as well as attending the state’s public colleges, universities and technical schools. If the bill is passed, if someone were to use a passport for identification, a federal immigration document that proves the person is in the US legally would have to be shown as well.
    Source: Wall Street Journal, 26 March 2012

  • USA / Harsh anti-immigration legislation drains budgets and damages state economies

    A common argument used by legislators in the US who support anti-immigration legislation is that with the departure of undocumented migrants, the state will save millions of dollars and create jobs for US citizens. However, a paper released by the Immigration Policy Centre shows that the opposite can occur and can actually hinder economic growth, produce severe worker shortages, and result in a loss of tax revenue. In addition, the actual implementation and enforcement of such harsh laws can cost the states millions as there is a need to increase police and jails. Finally, most anti-immigrant legislation has been challenged in court on constitutional grounds and defending such laws can be expensive.
    Source: Immigration Policy Centre, March 2012 and 26 March 2012

  • USA / The political effect of coming out as undocumented

    In 2010 a group of undocumented students in Chicago decided to go public with their undocumented status as a political act and held a “coming out” day in a local park. Since that time, a larger movement has developed with hundreds of such events across the nation, including the focus of worldwide attention on the issue when former Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer winner Jose Antonio Vargas revealed his undocumented status in the New York Times. 10 March 2012 marked National Coming Out of the Shadows Week, a week when undocumented youth publicly talk about their immigration status in an effort to increase awareness of the issues and challenges facing undocumented migrants. The political effect of the movement is debated as deportations are still taking place but putting a face on who stands to benefit from immigrant-friendly reforms has helped in some legislative instances, such as California’s state-level tuition reforms.
    Source: Colorlines, 9 March 2012

HEALTH CARE

  • UK / Law firm challenges legality of new legislation which refuses migrants that have not paid their UK medical bills

    Pierce Glynn Solicitors, a UK law firm, has issued proceedings to challenge the legality of the Department of Health guidance to hospitals on when debts should be reported to the UK Border Agency. The current guidance may be discriminatory and may violate the Data Protection Act. 13 April 2012 is the deadline by which the Department of Health must release its formal response to the challenge and a reply may be required. The reply would need to include up to date evidence showing that people are being deterred from accessing treatment as a result of this policy and the law firm is looking for patients who have had such experiences. A good candidate would be someone that has a longstanding health issue, received a bill and would have a good reason for not leaving the UK. Please contact Adam Hundt (ahundt@pierceglynn.co.uk) at Pierce Glynn Solicitors for further information.
    Source: Refugee Health Network, 30 March 2012; Pierce Glynn Solicitors,

  • UK / Campaign in London launched to support migrant’s registration with GPs

    Many migrants fail to register with a General Practitioner (GP) either because they are unaware of their eligibility or because they are wrongly turned away. The Mayor of London, with partner organisations, has published a leaflet on how to access primary healthcare in London that should support migrants and other excluded groups in registering. The leaflet can be downloaded in nineteen languages and one of the aims is to bring some clarity amongst migrants, migrant-support organisations and health practitioners on access to healthcare as there is often much confusion both on the part of service-providers and within migrant communities. Much of the confusion hinges on whether visitors, over-stayers and failed asylum seekers can register with a GP. While GPs have some discretion in accepting new patients, people seeking to register do not legally have to prove their identity or immigration status to register with a practice. If somebody is refused they may ask the GP practice to provide reasons in writing and GPs must ensure that they are not treating people differently due to their nationality or ethnic background. This means that, for the time being, long-term migrants should be able to register for primary care irrespective of their immigration status.
    Source: Migrants’ Rights Network, 2 April 2012; London.gov.uk, 14 February 2012

  • USA / Undocumented migrants forced to purchase medicines on the underground market for their sexual and reproductive health care needs

    In the United States, most undocumented migrants are unable to afford private health insurance or do not qualify for state insurance programs for low-income families. As a result, many seek alternative ways to meet their health care needs, such as turning to the underground market for medications such as birth control pills. In Mexico, where many of the underground medications come from, birth control pills are sold over the counter without a prescription. In a research study that was published in the American Journal of Public Health in June 2010, it was found that the drugs purchased underground, many of which were also purchased by US born women, were the same brands available in the US market but the fact that they were being purchased under the counter was not an ideal situation. The researcher for the study notes that ideally undocumented women should be able to see a doctor or a nurse, receive a screening and access the birth control methods which they prefer.
    Source: Alternet, 23 March 2012

LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS

  • USA / National Farmworker Awareness Week, 25-31 March 2012

    The 13th Annual National Farmworker Awareness Week was held between 25-31 March 2012 and raises awareness about the working conditions for farmworkers. Various activities took place in a number of states to draw attention to the conditions and plight of workers, and advocates also took the opportunity to press the Labour Department to finalise a rule change that would help protect child farmworkers from some of the most severe occupational hazards, such as handling pesticides and dangerous equipment. The rule change, however, is not supported by the agricultural industry lobby, which has invested heavily against it, arguing that the child labour protections would adversely impact the long standing tradition of youth working on farms to gain valuable skills and lessons in hard work, character and leadership, as well as hurting the children’s opportunities to learn hands-on skills.
    Source: Student Action with Farmworkers, 31 March 2012; Huffington Post, 30 March 2012

UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN

  • FRANCE / Best apprentice award goes to young undocumented woman

    The competition for the best apprentices in France has recognised a young undocumented woman of Roma origin, Cristina Dimitru. Cristina arrived in Nantes with her family in 2005, and all requests for the family’s regularisation have been refused. Having turned eighteen years old, Cristina is now also undocumented. “Even though I have worked hard, I cannot find a job, or get my licence, or ask for a bursary so that I can enrol in a professional baccalaureate” she lamented. When her family arrived in France in 2005, they lived in a caravan without water or electricity for 18 months before moving into an apartment. Despite these difficult living conditions, her schooling being interrupted for two years between 2005 and 2007, and having to learn the language, Cristina managed to enter directly into high school in 2007. Dimitru’s award, given at a ceremony at the Senate in Paris on 29 March 2012, marks the second consecutive year that the gold medal has been awarded to an undocumented young adult.
    Source: La Liberation, 29 March 2012

  • FRANCE / CAMPAIGN / Campaign highlights women’s exposure to violence following closure of homeless shelters

    The SAMU Social, a municipal social humanitarian service which provides emergency care and medical aid to homeless people and those in social distress, has launched a campaign denouncing the closure of its last emergency accommodation centre (centre d’hébergement d’urgence, CHU) in Paris. Due to close on 31 May 2010, the centre houses 52 excluded and undocumented women, many of whom are fleeing violence and require safe and suitable accommodation.  An online campaign video depicts a homeless woman being violently assaulted, she attempts to enter a centre whose doors remain closed, the viewer is invited to intervene in the scenario by signing an online petition which will open the centre’s doors to the young woman. Entitled ‘Women’s nightmare’, the campaign video seeks to inform public opinion about the vulnerability of homeless women and convince the State, the Paris City Hall and Public Welfare to intervene to ensure that Paris retains a women-only emergency accommodation centre.
    Source: La Croix, 9 April 2012

  • GERMANY / CAMPAIGN / “No pregnancy is illegal”

    The campaign “No pregnancy is illegal“ (Keine Schwangerschaft ist illegal) of Düsseldorfer Flüchtlingsinitiative “STAY!“ (Düsseldorf Refugee Initiative „STAY!) supports undocumented pregnant women anonymously on an individual basis, connects them to free medical care services and conducts advocacy work for the situation of undocumented women in public. For more information, click here.

  • IRELAND / NGOs call for reform of immigration rules to protect migrant women experiencing domestic violence

    Nine Irish NGOs have united to form ‘The Coalition on Domestic Violence’ to push for a legal provision allowing non-Irish women to safely and quickly remove themselves from situations of domestic abuse. On 8 April the coalition held a stakeholder roundtable and legislator briefing on immigration rules for migrant women experiencing domestic violence and developed short term practical solutions and legislative reforms necessary to close the gap in protection in Ireland’s immigration system. UK-based Southall Black Sisters participated in the event to share the lessons and reforms developed in the UK which could be applicable to the Irish system to protect migrant women experiencing domestic abuse that are subject to immigration control.
    Source: Women’s Aid, 5 March 2012

  • UK / New policy for victims of domestic violence on partner-dependent visa in United Kingdom

    The UK Home Office has introduced a new policy to provide access to public funds for migrants who are victims of domestic violence. In effect since 1 April 2012, this policy replaces the pilot ‘Sojourner Project’, a scheme which had been run by Eaves Housing association and funded by the UK Home Office since November 2009. Like the pilot programme, this policy will enable migrants who are in United Kingdom as the spouse or partner of a British Citizen or permanent resident who experience domestic violence at the hands of their visa sponsor to access accommodation and financial support. As the visa conditions of their stay limits their access to public funds for the first two years, the UK government has recognised the need to enable access to public funds whilst they make a claim to stay permanently in the UK under the Domestic Violence Immigration Rule. To qualify for the fund, migrants must submit a claim to stay permanently in the UK under the Domestic Violence Immigration Rule (Settlement DV).
    Source: UKBA, ‘Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence’

UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

  • FRANCE / EVENT / Workshop on basic social rights for children in an irregular migration situation

    PICUM and Gisti are holding a workshop entitled “Building Strategies to Protect Children in an Irregular Migration Situation in France” on 3 May 2012 in Paris, France. The goals of the workshop are for participants to build mutual understanding of the problems that children in an irregular migration situation face in accessing education, health care and housing in France, and collaborate to devise some concrete actions and strategies to improve on some of the challenges identified. The workshop will bring together and benefit from the expertise of education and health care professionals, social workers, local authorities, non-governmental organisations and individual migrants concerned about children living with their families in an irregular migration situation in France. More information and online registration (by 26 April 2012) are available on the PICUM website.

  • NETHERLANDS / Main cities support regularisation of undocumented children

    The municipalities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and the Hague have voiced their support of a so-called ‘pardon’ for undocumented children, after the council of the Hague voted in favour of such a motion. Currently a total of 145 out of 415 municipalities support this call, following on from a parliamentary initiative from two opposition parties.
    Source: Spits, 29 March 2012

  • SWITZERLAND / Consultation about vocational training for young undocumented migrants

    Young undocumented migrants may be able to carry out professional training in the future, on the condition that they are well integrated and have attended compulsory schooling in Switzerland for at least five years. The Swiss Federal Council has an open consultation about the proposal, the Barthassat motion “Access to learning for young people without legal status”, until 8 June 2012. The Federal Council intends to amend the ordinance on the admission, residence and the exercise of gainful employment (OASA) to implement the motion. For more information and contact details, click here.
    Source: Cidc, 30 March 2012; The Federal Council, 2 March 2012

  • UK / UK Border Agency to re-introduce X-rays to determine children’s age

    The UK Border Agency is testing the use of dental x-rays to determine the age of children, for three months from 29 March 2012,  in the face of fierce opposition from the medical profession, immigration lawyers and the UK’s children’s commissioners. The children’s commissioners said in a joint statement that they were appalled at what they believed was “a clear breach of the rights of vulnerable children and young people and may, in fact, be illegal”. Lawyers also warned that the planned trial was unethical and that to x-ray children in such circumstances might constitute assault. Liam Donaldson, when he was chief medical officer for the government in 2008, backed the medical and dental professions’ warning against the use of checks involving potential harm from ionising radiation when there was no intention of clinical benefit. He also supported their concerns about the scientific evidence over establishing age in such a way. The move comes three years after the previous Labour government dropped plans to introduce such checks.
    Source: The Guardian, 30 March 2012

DETENTION AND DEPORTATION

  • CANADA / Detention of irregular migrants for up to a year, HRW expresses concern

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) has raised concern over provisions of the proposed Bill C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act. HRW believes that the Bill contradicts international refugee and human rights law with specific concerns expressed with regards to: a year-long mandatory detention without review, a five-year bar on adjustment to permanent resident status, the recognised age of majority as sixteen thus meaning that individuals aged sixteen and seventeen considered as children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child would be detained, and the power assigned to the Minister to designate ‘countries of origin as safe’. HRW has called upon the Canadian authorities to abide by its obligations under Canadian and international law and focus on sanctioning “those profiting from human smuggling, not those fleeing persecution”.
    Source: Human Rights Watch, 16 March 2012

  • GREECE / Meeting between Greek Minister of Citizens’ Protection and EU Commissioner for Home Affairs

    An extraordinary meeting between the Greek Minister of Citizens’ Protection, Michalis Chrisochoidis, and the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, took place in Brussels on 2 April 2012, where the Greek Minister asked for the support of the European Commission for Greece’s efforts to set up centres to house migrants not eligible for asylum while they awaited deportation back to their own country.  During a joint press conference at the end of the meeting, Commissioner Malmstrom while recognising the difficult situation that Greece is currently facing and the large pressure due to high levels of irregular migration in the country, said that the Commission would look into the options for supporting Greece in line with European rules and international standards. She also stressed the need for more efficient use of Community funds destined for use against irregular migration, saying there were problems with their absorption. Moreover, she referred to more effective border protection, improved functioning of the asylum system, promotion of humanitarian action and creation of reception centres for undocumented migrants who cannot stay in the country, in order to address the problem of irregular migration in Greece.
    Source: In.gr, 2 April 2012; Skai.gr, 2 April 2012

  • GREECE / Plan to open 30 new detention centres and detain migrants and asylum seekers on health ground withdrawn, but expected to be reintroduced soon

    A proposed amendment to Greek Asylum and Immigration legislation according to which detention is foreseen for undocumented migrants who are considered a risk to public health was withdrawn on Friday, 6 April 2012, but it is expected to be reintroduced soon. The other proposal of the Greek Minister of Citizens’ Protection, Michalis Chrisochoidis, to create 30 new detention centres for 30,000 undocumented migrants and asylum seekers with EU funding was also withdrawn but it is expected to be reintroduced. The proposals have caused alarm among NGOs. Amnesty International denounced their discriminatory nature against the most vulnerable people.
    Sources: ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 6 April 2012

  • ITALY / Tunisians reported abuses at Trapani’s Centre for Identification and Expulsion

    Tensions have been running high at the CIE of Contrada Milo in Trapani. About 200 undocumented migrants of Tunisian origin are detained in the centre, together with other ex-detainees waiting for months to be freed. Attempts to escape the centre have occurred repeatedly. Tunisians have reported the violent reaction of police forces to such attempts. Physical and mental abuse, and inhumane treatment has been reported. Action meant as punishment included the damage and misuse of migrants’ possessions. Police intervention lasted several hours.
    Source: Corriere Immigrazione, 30 March 2012

  • NETHERLANDS / Dutch ombudsman expects to present outcomes of investigation about circumstances in detention centres for irregular migrants summer 2012

    About 7,800 undocumented migrants are held in Dutch detention centres every year. In 2011, in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, some detainees held a sit-in campaign to raise awareness of their situation. The Dutch Ombudsman has once before issued a report on the situation in a detention centre at Schiphol airport. You can read the report (available in Dutch only) here. With the sit-in held in Rotterdam, the detainees sought to raise awareness of the circumstances of their detention, and this caused the Ombudsman to carry out a preliminary investigation into their current situation. As part of this research, the Ombudsman and his team visit the detention centre in Rotterdam, talk with the detainees, personnel and the Board of directors responsible for the ´regime´ in the detention centre. The Ombudsman is also gathering external advice and recommendations, and will visit other detention centres to allow for a comparison, if needed. The Ombudsman expects to present his findings before the summer of 2012, and will decide, among other topics, upon the level of improvements made by the board of directors with regard to the circumstances of the detainees, or decide whether further research is required.
    Source: Nationale Ombudsman Nieuws, 19 January 2012

  • NETHERLANDS / 40 mayors against deportation under coordination of the police force

    Mayors of 40 Dutch municipalities are against a new regulation of the Dutch Minister for Immigration, Integration and Asylum policies, that obliges them to cooperate with the deportation of asylum-seekers in their respective municipalities. The mayors claim that the Minister, Gerd Leers, is not responsible for deciding that the Dutch police force will participate in the deportation of asylum-seekers. The mayors state that Minister Leers is wrongly explaining the law. The Minister claims that he can decide upon police duties when the State´s safety is at stake but the mayors claim that the Minister can only do so in case of a terrorist threat, and not in the case of asylum-seekers whose claim has been rejected. Dutch Minister Leers said that he has ´exclusive authority´ over the police forces concerned with cases of migrants who entered irregularly. Although Minister Leers acknowledges that the mayors are responsible for securing public safety in their municipalities, they will never be able to carry out the duties of the police force where undocumented migrants are concerned, as a deportation or (forced) change of home may cause unrest in the local community. A member of the Dutch Parliament for the Green party, Tofik Dibi, wanted to confront the Minister 3 April 2012, during the session of Parliament, with a letter from the 40 mayors, which states that 150 municipalities want a general pardon for children of undocumented migrants. The Member of Parliament also wants to ask Minister Leers for his opinion on the fact that a ¨majority of EU member states is against the Dutch initiative to make family migration more difficult, and the Netherlands becomes more isolated in Europe and the current coalition becomes more isolated in the Netherlands¨.
    Source: Binnenlandsbestuur, 1 April 2012; NOS.nl, 1 April 2012; Trouw.nl, 1 April 2012

  • SPAIN / Migrants deported to RCD under no agreement

    The Association Prodein from Melilla reported the deportation of 52 Congolese migrants on 24 February 2012, after being transferred from Melilla to the peninsula’s migrant detention centres. Conversely, the Government Delegation, the General Directorate of Police and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)’s Embassy in Spain had repeatedly declared that the deportation was not possible in the absence of a repatriation agreement with DRC. Against this background, the decision came as a surprise to human rights and social organisations, who have also claimed that the country is riven by conflict and political instability, and that among the migrants deported there were seriously ill persons and unsuccessful asylum seekers who claimed protection on grounds of political prosecution. After landing in DRC, all migrants were transferred to Kinshasa’s detention facility named as ‘Kin Mazière’, a maximum security prison where opponents of the regime have been allegedly tortured, according to a number of international organisations.  After the release of some of them, the spokesperson of the Congolese Collective in Melilla claimed that those who were known as opponents of the regime before leaving DRC were still being held in the detention facility. El Telegrama de Melilla has made numerous attempts to contact various institutions, such as the DRC Embassy in Spain, and the Home Office’s General Directorate of International Relations and Foreign Affairs, in order to shed light on the deportation procedure, without any success. Besides questioning the procedure, Prodein queried why these migrants were confined in Melilla for more than three years before finally being deported.
    Source: Peridismo Humano, 12 March 2012; Europa Press, 14 March 2012

  • SPAIN / REPORT / Ombudsman draws attention to overuse of expulsion decision and internment measures for CIEs

    The Spanish Ombudsman submitted the 2011 Annual Report to the Spanish Parliament on 28 March 2012, drawing attention to the exceptionality of both expulsion decisions and the internment measure in reference to the CIEs (migrant detention centres). In particular, the Ombudsman claimed that both exceptionalities have been overused and expressed concern over the centres’ conditions (such as lack of social assistance) and the lack of uniform criteria in applying for admission in the centres. The report is based on a number of field visits to centres located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Valencia and Madrid held by the Ombudsman Office’s National Mechanism for the prevention of torture (MNP) and the migration working group that operated throughout 2011 and 2012.
    Source: El Defensor del Pueblo, 28 March 2012

  • UK / Groom arrested just before wedding because his visa had expired

    A Bangladeshi man was arrested just before his wedding ceremony at the Devin Register Officer in Exeter because it was discovered that his UK visa had expired. A Border Agency official said that the man was arrested out of sight of the 30 guests at the ceremony. He was arrested on 10 March but remains in an immigration centre awaiting deportation.
    Source: BBC News, 29 March 2012

  • USA / ICE reports deporting nearly 47,000 parents of US citizen children

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported 46,686 parents in the first half of 2011, who had at least one US citizen child, according to an ICE report made public on Monday 26 March 2012. Congress demanded that the Department of Homeland Security begin to compile this data by July 2010, but it had not been made available to the public. The Applied Research Centre had previously obtained it through a Freedom of Information Act request. The data on parental deportations does not reveal how many children each of these parents had, or whether their children remained in the US or left with their mothers and fathers. In November 2011, the Applied Research Centre released a report, “Shattered Families,” showing that over 5,100 children of immigrants have ended up in foster care because US immigration authorities had either detained or deported their parents (See PICUM Bulletin 7 December 2011, 15 February 2012). Colorlines.com reporter Seth Freed Wessler has been awarded the 2012 Hillman Prize, one of the most prestigious honours a journalist can receive, for the report. Responding to the public release of the ICE data, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) expressed concern, “LIRS, the national organisation established by Lutheran churches in the United States to serve uprooted people, is deeply troubled by this report,” said Stacy Martin, vice president for external relations, “It shows that the US immigration system is tearing apart so many families.”
    Source: PR Newswire, 30 March 2012; Colorlines, 3 November 2011

PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES

  • USA / STUDY / New study shows how restrictive immigration policies affect the daily life of undocumented migrants

    A new study released by the Centre for American Progress, “Life as an Undocumented Immigrant”, looks at the harmful effects that restrictive immigration legislation in Arizona and Alabama has on the lives of migrants.  It presents one of the first studies of immigrants’ responses to local restrictions and enforcement and shows how exclusionary policies inhibit immigrants from integrating into their communities.  The report notes that as a result, immigrants hold negative perceptions of local law enforcement, associate routine activities such as driving and walking with anxiety and the risk of deportation, and develop strategies of avoidance in order to prevent the discovery of their undocumented status.
    Source: Center for American Progress, March 2012

EVENTS

  • BELGIUM / PIDOP policy workshop

    Processes Influencing Democratic Ownership and Participation (PIDOP) is organising a policy workshop on “Civic Engagement among youth, migrants and minorities” in Brussels, from 9.30 to 13.30 on 24 April 2012. The objective of this workshop is to brief policymakers on some of the main findings which have emerged from the PIDOP project, and to describe and discuss the policy implications of these findings. To find out more about the PIDOP project click here. To register for a place at the meeting, please send an email to the PIDOP Project Manager, Dr. David Garbin, D.Garbin@surrey.ac.uk.

  • ISRAEL / International Conference: Migration and Well-Being: Research Frontiers

    Tel Aviv University and RC31 are organising an event entitled “The International Conference on Migration and Well-Being” on 8-10 January 2013. The aim of the conference is to address the issue of wellbeing associated with migration, including looking at related and diverse topics such as the impact of xenophobia and exclusion on the wellbeing of immigrants; facing ill health and poverty in host societies; the wellbeing of children; and the growing role of immigrants in care-providing industries.Registration has not opened yet but the organisers have made a call for papers.

OTHER NEWS

  • BELGIUM / WEBSITE / Getting the voice out

    The initiative ‘Getting the Voice Out’ (See PICUM Bulletin 14 March 2012) has a new website, at www.gettingthevoiceout.org. Getting the Voice Out gathers stories from people detained in detention centres, to get their voices heard in the outside world and highlights what the authorities try hide. The initiative is still seeking volunteer translators to assist them and contact can be made via their website.

  • FRANCE / VIDEO / Audio-slideshow about undocumented migrants of Calais and their supporters

    Photographer Chris Grodotzki has been accompanying the activist group Calais Migrant Solidarity, who is working with and for undocumented migrants in Calais. From his photographs and recorded testimonies he made the audio-slideshow “Stadt der Gesichtslosen – Die Illegalen von Calais“ (City of the Faceless – living illegally in Calais). View the German version here and the English version here.

  • FRANCE / FILM / Challenging the myths

    Amidst the increasing use of migration as a key issue in electoral campaigns in France, in collaboration with Cette France-là, Hélène Flautre (MEP, member of the Green Party) created three videos to contextualise and challenge the myths being used. Click here to view the videos.

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