PICUM Bulletin — 29 August 2011

Dear Subscribers,

We hope you all had a great summer!

Please find below the latest edition of the PICUM Bulletin. We hope it will give you a thorough update of what has been happening on the issue of undocumented migrants in Europe and the rest world. We invite you to share this Bulletin widely with colleagues, networks and friends who wish to support the mission and work of PICUM.

If you have any comments and suggestions, please contact us. Thank you!

Best regards,

The PICUM Team

 

Borders

  • GREECE / Drop in irregular entries where the fence is to be constructed

    Enhanced Frontex patrols at the Greek-Turkish sea borders appear to have caused a 98% decrease of irregular migration by sea, as smugglers have located new crossings in the Evros region between the areas of Kipoi and Soufli to transfer irregular migrants into Greek territory. Along the area where the 10.3 km long Evros fence is to be constructed, the number of irregular entries declined by 40% in the first semester of 2011.
    Source: Ta Nea, 10 August

  • GREECE / New moat to be built to further deter irregular entries

    Greece has begun work on a moat along its border with Turkey in a further bid to deter irregular migrants from entering the country. The water-filled trench will be 30 meters wide and 7 meters deep, with some press reporting that the moat will be 120 km long and other media sources that its length will be only 20 km. The first 14.5 km section has just been completed near the town of Orestiada in northeastern Greece. “The trench in Evros is absurd”, said a spokesperson of the German Human Rights Group Pro Asyl to Spiegel-online, adding that “such actions increase the death toll of refugees crossing the border”.
    Source: Avgi, 6 August

  • ITALY / DEATH AT BORDER / 25 deaths found in the hold of a boat

    When on 1 August 2011, the Italian coast guard started disembarking the 271 passengers of an overcrowded boat from Libya arrived early in the morning in Lampedusa, they found 25 dead bodies in the hold. It is probable that they did not survive the heat and the smoke produced by the engine and could not find their way out because the boat was too overcrowded, the news agency ANSA reports.
    Source: Fortress Europe, 1 August 2011; La Repubblica, 3 August 2011

  • ITALY / Over 48,000 irregular migrants arrived by boat in 2011

    In the first seven months of 2011 a total of 48,000 boat migrants entered the shores of Italy, about half coming from Tunisia and the other half from Libya. From 13-14 August over 2,300 African migrants reached Italy (in addition, the Italian coast guard is still looking for 3 migrants who were on a boat of 6 passengers that are still missing). Of the 2,300 irregular migrants that arrived over 1,100 have been sent to detention centres in Mineo, Molise and Manduria , and another 450 are being sent to Cagliari on Sardinia and in Liguria. 1,200 migrants remain in Lampedusa. It is also expected that of the 24,000 migrants who have arrived from Libya until now, about 35-40% may get refugee status, and the others will be repatriated by Italian authorities.
    Source: La Repubblica, 15 August 2011

  • MEDITERRANEAN SEA / DEATH AT BORDER / A flotilla to stop deaths in the Mediterranean

    Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Libya since the crisis began in February 2011. Every day, refugees arrive in Tunisia in already overpopulated camps. The states participating in the coalition forces do not seem to establish a single link between their military intervention and those forced into exile. The European Union still hasn’t taken any initiative to host these people or to save those endangered at sea. A coalition of Euro-Mediterranean migrants’ rights organisations decided to charter a flotilla which will undertake maritime surveillance so that assistance is finally provided to people in danger. They call on European bodies and governments on both sides of the Mediterranean to establish relations within this common area on the basis of exchange and reciprocity.
    Source: Migreurop, 7 July 2011

  • MEDITERRANEAN SEA / DEATH AT BORDER / NATO ship refuses to rescue migrants dying at sea

    On 4 August 2011, an Italian coast guard patrol rescued almost four hundred people aboard a boat that had left Libya six days before and had been lost for more than 36 hours off the coast of Lampedusa. Arriving in Lampedusa, migrants declared tragic deaths had occurred from hunger and fatigue during the voyage and dozens of bodies were thrown overboard. According to the numerous reports, a NATO ship was only 27 miles from the ship in distress, while Italian coast guard patrols travelled 90 miles to rescue the migrants. Italy informed they want to open an investigation to clarify why NATO did not intervene.
    Source: Fortress Europe, 4 August 2011; Migreurop, 5 August 2011

  • USA / DEATH AT BORDER / Less migrant deaths and apprehensions along the Arizona border in 2011

    According to the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, which covers the majority of Arizona’s border with Mexico, 132 migrants have died this year until July 31. This was 38% less than last year and irregular immigrant apprehensions also dropped by 44%. Border Patrol officials were hesitant to link the two numbers as in 2010 migrant deaths soared to the record of 249 while apprehensions were already dropping.
    Source: USAToday, 16 August 2011

United Nations

  • COMMITTEE ON MIGRANT WORKERS / EVENT / UN Day of General Discussion on Undocumented Migrants

    The independent body of experts that monitors the implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families will hold a Day of General Discussion (DGD) on the rights of migrant workers in an irregular situation and members of their families. The DGD will take place on 19 September 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization of the DGD is seen as an opportunity for dialogue and information exchange on issues pertaining to the implementation of the Convention including the issue of undocumented migrants. The agenda and registration form can be found OHCHR website. For further information on how civil society organisations can take part, please visit the PICUM website where further information is available.

European Policy Developments

  • COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Thomas Hammarberg urges improvement of age assessment methods

    Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has urged for methods used to assess the age of migrant children to be improved. Hammarberg emphasized the consensus among associations of pediatricians that bone x-rays are unreliable and unethical, and supported the joint position of Ombudsmen for Children at the European level – that age assessments should only be carried out in cases of serious doubt, and be multidisciplinary. Composed of independent experts, the panel should combine physical, social and psychological maturity assessments, which respect the child’s culture, dignity and physical integrity. He noted that due consideration of the potential trauma such tests may cause is also necessary. Drawing also on the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Hammarberg argues that “if there is no serious doubt, authorities should trust the documents provided or the statement made by the child” and there should be the possibility to appeal the decision.
    Source: Council of European Commissioner for Human Rights, 9 August 2011

  • EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE / Supreme Court asks ECJ for clarity on family reunion of third country nationals

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has been asked by Austria’s Supreme Administrative Court (VGH) to clarify further the rights of third-country nationals who are family members of EU citizens that have not exercised their right of free movement (moved to another EU member state), following the Zambrano ruling (C-34/09; see PICUM Bulletin 14 March & 11 April 2011). The reference for a preliminary ruling (C-256/11) concerns four separate cases of appeal against the Austrian Minister of Interior for denying such third-country family members a right of residence in Austria. The main difference between all of these cases and the Zambrano case is that the family member that is an EU citizen is not dependent on the family member that is a third-country national.
    Source: Migration News Sheet, August 2011

  • EUROPEAN COMMISSION / Reintroduction of border controls in the EU

    In light of the numerous arrivals of migrants from North Africa during spring and summer of 2011, the EU Schengen system has come under pressure, with some Member States considering the reinstating of national border controls. Denmark was the first country to reintroduce border controls at its ports and airports, as well as along its only land border with Germany and its bridge to Sweden. The European Commission issued a critical preliminary assessment stating that it did not find sufficient justifications from the Danish side for the intensification of the controls at the internal borders.
    Source: Euractiv, 19 July 2011

  • FRONTEX / Return of over 2,000 persons in 2010

    Over 2,000 people were returned under Frontex joint operations in 2010. In particular, 154 people were returned to Iraq under several joint operations led by Sweden, in participation with Norway, the Netherlands and the UK. The recently published Frontex General Report provides an overview of these and other key activities carried out by the EU Border Agency during 2010.
    Source: ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 29 July, 2011

National Developments

  • BELGIUM / Rise in number of undocumented migrants found around motorways

    The police has registered a significant increase in irregular migrants around parking lots in Flanders, who are also younger than before. Every day dozens cross the border by climbing on trucks that are travelling to Great Britain or Dunkirk. They are often found in the adjacent corn fields next to a major Belgian motorway. PICUM Board Member Didier Vanderslycke was asked to respond on VRT evening news, a Belgian television station, to the reports that undocumented migrants were sleeping in the cornfields of farms in the port town of Oostende.
    Source: Zita.be, 3 August 2011; De Redactie, 8 August 2011

  • GREECE / Médecins du Monde reports on its field visit to Greece

    A team from Médecins du Monde (MDM) France carried out a three-day field visit to Greece and Pierre Salignon, General Director of MDM France, has written an article about those who are ‘forgotten’ (“les oubliés”), who have been excluded from European plans to save Greece’s economy.  “Les oubliés” are undocumented migrants who cannot work, cannot benefit from housing and need to pay to access health care, they are people who have made many attempts to leave Greece but through Dublin II are often sent back. The text highlights the obstacles these people face on a daily basis to get food, seek shelter and a safe environment to avoid the numerous incidence of police violence and raids, it outlines how these people attempt to survive in this hostile and precarious environment. Read the full article in French here.

  • ITALY / Constitutional Court rules against Security Package provision preventing irregular migrants to get married

    On 25 July 2011, the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional the provision of the Security Package that prevents migrants without a residence permit to get married. The decision recalls a sentence of the Council of Europe that affirmed that such a limitation would indirectly affect the rights of the national citizen. This is only the most recent of a number of others rulings questioning the constitutionality of the Security Package.
    Source: La Repubblica, 25 July 2011

  • SPAIN / Police denounces overcrowding in housing facilities

    In the North African Spanish cities of Melilla and Ceuta, the Spanish Federal Union of Police (UFP) has denounced the overcrowded conditions facing many accommodation facilities for undocumented migrants as a result of the high influx of Moroccan migrants who are now waiting to be sent back to their home countries. Migrant at Sea report this is the largest number of irregular entries by sea in the last years. The UFP has expressed concerned this situation may lead to riots and health issues for those detained with the Centre for temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI) Melilla holding twice their capacity and the one in Ceuta almost a third over. The police have also complained that some detention cells in the local police station in Ceuta have been forced to hold up to 20 people when they are meant to detain 6 individuals. Francisco Javier Velázquez, the director general of the Spanish police and Civil Guard is pursuing talks to establish greater collaboration with the Moroccan authorities to control the migration flow.
    Source: Migrants at Sea, 21 July 2011; El Correo, 3 August 2011; SUR, 9 August 2011

  • NETHERLANDS / Unjustified police searches rules judge in appeal case

    An irregular migrant who was stopped by the police while working as a cleaner won an appeal case as the judge ruled that the searches carried out were unjustified on the basis of the present conditions. The police had been trying to track irregular cleaners and house maids in wealthy residential areas and as such had been specifically looking for Africans travelling between Amsterdam and wealthy areas to undertake cleaning activities. The police filed such additional travel criteria in order for the search not to be branded as ethnically profiling. As on the basis of the criteria no ‘objectively reasonable suspicion of irregularity’ was found and the police failed to specify in how many cases irregular migrants were found, the judge ruled the police proceedings as unlawful.
    Source: Doorbrakke.eu, 28 July 2011

  • UK / Immigration Advice Service fills the gap with the closing of Immigration Advisory Service

    The Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) went into administration on 8 July 2011 due to the decision of its main funders, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) withdrawing financial support. The IAS was the UK’s largest charity providing advice and representation to immigrants and asylum seekers and refugees. Former staff members of the IAS have now formed a new organization called the Immigration Advice Service to continue the good work of the former IAS. Details of the organization’s offices and outreach services will soon be available on its website, www.iasservices.org.uk. The office can be contacted by telephone, +44/08448870111 or email info@iasservices.org.uk .
    Source: Immigration Advice Service

  • USA / Religious organizations speak out against anti-immigration legislation’s that are being passed in some US states and which make doing charity work impossible

    The Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted in support of two resolutions that encourage support for immigration reform and call on congregations to actively protest anti-immigrant state legislation such as the bills passed in Arizona and Alabama. Passed by overwhelming majorities, both measures reaffirm the concern for the vulnerable undocumented populations seen in the communities. As well, the president of the National Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul spoke out against the Alabama legislation as it would make it a crime to practice virtually every facet of their charity work such as finding temporary shelter for someone, or giving a ride to the doctor would be compromised by the law.
    Source: PR Newswire, 19 August 2011; E-Release, 17 August 2011; The Catholic Review, 4 August 2011

Health Care

  • BELGIUM / Undocumented migrants give their blood and denounce the difficult access to medical care in Belgium

    On 29 July 2011, about 20 Moroccan undocumented migrants from the association Sans-Papiers Belgique presented themselves to the St Pierre Hospital in Brussels to give their blood. The aim of this symbolic action was to make a citizen’s gesture despite their precarious situations and to denounce the difficulty to get medical care, notably in emergency services where undocumented migrants are often refused although they are entitled to this care. The communication officer of St Pierre Hospital wondered why this action is implemented in this medical centre, which is, according to him, well known for welcoming every day patients in precarious situations.
    Source: Le Vif, 29 July 2011

  • NORWAY / Norwegian Ministry issues regulations clarifying the right to health care for undocumented migrants

    The Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care has issued regulations clarifying the right to health care for undocumented migrants. The rules state that all residents in Norway have the right to emergency care, regardless of their residency status in the country and that everyone should have the same right to an assessment from the specialist and to have the information necessary to safeguard their right to health care. The government noted its concern for undocumented pregnant women and children and that women without legal residence have the right to have abortions. Undocumented migrants must generally still pay for the medical care received, however, the hospital is not entitled to demand advance payment for emergency assistance and medical care from the specialist for persons that are in need of emergency care.
    Source: The Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care, 30 June 2011

  • UK / Regional health care providers unfairly targeting general practitioners which treat undocumented migrants

    In a recent investigation, it was found that one in ten regional health care providers in the UK disregard official guidance by investigating general practitioners (GPs) thought to be treating undocumented migrants. The Department of Health guidance permits treatment for asylum seekers with an active claim or appeal, while failed asylum seekers, including those facing deportation, can be treated by GPs at their discretion. But data showed that managers in different parts of the country took very different stances over the treatment of asylum seekers in primary care. The investigation also showed that there was confusion amongst the GPs over whether or not they were able to care for asylum seekers and migrants with almost half of the 290 respondents not knowing whether the regional authority restricted access or not and two-thirds of the GPS believing that irregular migrants should not have access to NHS care.
    Source: Pulse, 18 July 2011

  • UK / EVENT / Conference on Universal Access to Healthcare in the Age of Migration

    Organized by the Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN) and NHS East London and City, a conference entitled “Universal Access to Healthcare in the Age of Migration” will focus on the particular problems migrants experience when they are trying to access healthcare. It aims to share knowledge, network with delegates and understand related policies. The conference will take place in London on 23 September 2011.
    Source: Migrant’s rights network, August 2011

  • USA / Undocumented woman shackled during childbirth receives compensation

    Juana Villegas, an undocumented woman in Tennessee who was shackled by her hands and feet while in labour was awarded $200,000 (€138,232) compensation in a civil case on 18 August 2011. A federal district court had ruled against the County Sheriff’s Office in April 2011, finding that the restraint of pregnant women was a violation of the Constitution and contemporary standards of decency (see PICUM Bulletin 9 May 2011). County sheriff deputies had refused to leave the room while Ms Villegas changed into her hospital gown and would not allow her to inform her husband she was in labour. Following the judgement, Ms Villegas said her client’s would apply for a U-visa, a special status that may be granted to undocumented migrants who are victims of a crime in the United States. The U-visa provides three years legal work and residence, with the possibility of renewing for another three years and eventually, upgrading to full citizen status.
    Source: CNN, 21 August 2011

Labour and Fair Working Conditions

  • GERMANY / REPORT / Domestic Workers in Diplomats’ Households

    A report analysing the laws and practices existing in six European countries regarding rights violations and access to justice for domestic workers in the context of diplomatic immunity has been released by the German Institute for Human Rights. Identifying positive initiatives and offering a developed set of rights-based recommendations, the study was conducted as part of the three-year project “Forced Labor Today: Empow¬ering Trafficked Persons”, carried out in cooperation with the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility, Future”. The study focuses on practices in Aus¬tria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom in their capacity as host states for foreign diplo¬matic missions and international organisations.
    Source: Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte

  • UK / All encouraged to respond to the settlement consultation and attend rally in support of domestic workers

    The UK Coalition government launched a public consultation entitled “Employment-related settlement, Tier 5 and Overseas Domestic Workers”, to consider changes which would affect migrant workers in the UK, in particular restricting the possibility for most migrant workers from outside the EU to stay in the UK for longer than five years.  Also under consideration is abolishing the overseas domestic worker visa and restricting the rights of those which enter the UK under Tier 5 of the Points Based System. The deadline to respond to the consultation is 9 September 2011. Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN), a member of PICUM, offers on their website a host of information and analysis on the settlement consultation as well as suggestions on how organizations can engage and respond to the consultation (see link below). As well, Justice 4 Domestic Workers, a self-help group for domestic workers run by domestic workers, is organizing a rally and event in London on 4 September 2011. Further information on the rally is available on the Kalayaan website.
    Source: Mirgrant’s Rights Network, August 2011; Kalayaan, August 2011

  • USA / Domestic worker organizations use new Hollywood film to strengthen their message and raise awareness

    The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and a California domestic workers coalition are using the release of a new Hollywood film titled “The Help” to raise awareness on the importance of passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, AB 889. The legislation is being considered in the state of California and already passed the California State Assembly on 2 June 2011 and will be discussed by the state Senate in August 2011. The legislation would provide a host of rights such as meal and rest breaks, overtime pay, workers’ compensation and paid sick days. The film, “The Help”, is the story of a group of African-American domestic workers struggling for dignity and respect in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era. NDWA released a video (available on the AFL-CIO link below) to highlight the stories of 21st century domestic workers.
    Source: California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, afl-cio now blog, 10 August 2011

  • USA / Berry farms fined for underage pickers and the issue of child farm workers in the USA

    According to the US Labor Department, children as young as six years old were picking strawberries for no pay at three farms in the state of Washington. Federal law prohibits children younger than 12 years old from working in agriculture, even when supporting employed family members. Employers are liable for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act if they benefit from those violations. A majority of the workers in the area where the farms were located are Latino and many are believed to be undocumented. Each farm has been fined and a portion of the fines will go to the children to ensure that they are paid at least minimum wage for the time spent working. A new film entitled “The Harvest” (link below) discusses the topic of child farm labor and is the story of children who work 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week in a number of farms across America. The film follows three children through the 2009-2010 harvest from the onion fields of Texas to the apple orchards in Michigan.
    Source: The Columbian, 5 August 2011

Undocumented Women

  • NETHERLANDS / EVENT / Meeting on undocumented women in Utrecht on 23 September 2011

    Stichting LOS will host a network meeting on 23 September 2011 in Utrecht bringing together organisations working with undocumented women to acquire more knowledge about their rights and legal options. During workshops, professionals from the field will explore topics such as health care, women’s shelter facilities and residence permits. Participants can exchange experiences and jointly seek solutions to difficulties in providing assistance to undocumented women. The meeting, which will take place in Dutch, will also mark the launch of the information website. For more information contact: Ms Anne Olde Loohuis, anne@stichtinglos.nl

  • ESSAYS / ”Women in Migration Processes”

    ”Edeltraud Aubele and Gabriele Pieri published a collection of essays entitled “Women in Migration Processes” analysing migration processes from the 18th to the 20th century from a gender perspective. The publication includes historical examples and analyses on scientific reception and mediatisation of female migrants, including a chapter on best practices and solutions for empowering female migrants, and two examples of female migrant’s initiatives.

Undocumented Children and Their Families

  • FRANCE / Hosting isolated minors in Seine-Saint-Denis

    The President of general Council of Seine-Saint-Denis, Claude Bartolone, denounced the disengaging of the State in managing isolated minor foreigners. As an entry point on the French territory, the department of Seine-St-Denis said it is hosting around 950 isolated migrant minors, for whom it would assume the financial weight while insertion services, such as Social Help to Children (ASE) are saturated. The General Council stated that from 1 September 2011, it could not ensure hosting conditions in conformity with the mission of childhood protection, and started a judicial procedure to obtain financial compensation from the State. The NGO France Terre d’Asile recalls that there is no “massive influx” of isolated minor foreigners, whose number is estimated at 6000 on the territory in a constant manner for several years. However, care to these children is concentrated in a restricted number of departments, including seine-St-Denis, Paris or Pas-de-Calais. The vulnerability of these children and their difficulty to access care to which they are however entitled by the law, is calling for all stakeholders to initiate a dialogue, at national and regional scale.
    Source: General Council Seine-St-Denis, 25 July 2011; France Terre d’Asile, 26 July 2011

  • GERMANY / Parliament passes resolution to exclude educational administrations from the duty to denounce

    The German Parliament passed a resolution on 7 July 2011 to exclude school administrations from the duty to denounce. Although the right to education for all children is enshrined in the German Constitution, the duty on all public administrations to report undocumented migrants to the immigration authorities effectively overrides undocumented children’s entitlement. The opposition parties voted against the resolution because it is limited to education administrations, and they had proposed to exclude all public administration not involved in criminal justice, especially health care administrations and labour courts. The resolution still needs to be approved by the second chamber (Bundesrat) in September 2011. Once approved, it will be implemented by each Federal State as education is managed at the federal level. Katholisches Forum Leben in der Illegalität have strongly welcomed the resolution, but also highlighted that there are several remaining issues that will need to be resolved to ensure that education becomes accessible in practice. For example, children will still face barriers such as providing the documentation required for registration in schools and obtaining accident insurance, which is obligatory for all school children.
    Source: Katholisches Forum Leben in der Illegalität, 8 July 2011; TAZ, 8 July 2011; Frankfurter Rundschau, 9 July 2011

  • IRELAND / Residency rights for parents of Irish citizen children is number one concern on migrant helpline

    The Immigrant Council of Ireland runs a confidential information and referral service helpline which provides information and advice to persons about the immigration system in Ireland. Every six months, they release statistics on the topics of the calls received. Recent statistics indicate that residency rights for parents of Irish citizen children was the most common issue raised by callers to the helpline with around 800 calls, compared to 286 last year.
    Source: Immigrant Council of Ireland, 2 August 2011

  • ISRAEL / Prime Minister Netanyahu’s wife protests deportation of migrant workers’ children

    The wife of the Israeli prime minister has protested over a decision by her husband’s cabinet to deport 400 children of migrant workers, adding her voice to an emotional debate about the nature of the Jewish state. Sara Netanyahu wrote a letter to Eli Yishai, the hardline cabinet member in charge of the deportation programme, appealing for a review of the controversial decision, which is backed by her husband, Binyamin Netanyahu. “I appeal to you as a mother of two young boys and a psychologist in the public service,” wrote Mrs Netanyahu. “I am asking you, from the bottom of my heart, to … allow the vast majority of the 400 remaining children to stay in Israel.” The government estimates there are currently 1,200 children born to around 200,000 migrant workers, who are largely undocumented. After debating the issue for about a year, it decided to allow 800 who have lived in Israel for more than five years, speak Hebrew and attend school to remain; the rest – most of whom are less than five years old – will be deported to their parents’ home countries. Critics, including several thousand who demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Saturday, argue it is immoral for a country dedicated to providing a haven for Jews fleeing persecution to expel migrant children who have known no other home. Yishai, a member of the ultra-Orthodox rightwing Shas party, rejected Mrs Netanyahu’s appeal. The children are scheduled to be deported at the end of August.
    Source: The Guardian, 15 August 2011; The Telegraph, 15 August 2011

  • SPAIN / The Catalan ombudsman accuses the attorney of distorting the age of immigrants

    A report by the Ombudsman of Catalonia denounces government and the attorney of Catalonia for committing “violations of law” by amending the age migrant children who arrived in Spain irregularly, so they are identified as being over 18 years-old and can be expelled to their country of origin. The attorney resorts to carrying out scans of children’s wrist and teeth to determine their age although this method has a margin of error of 1.7 years below or above thus allowing room for error. In case of doubt, the Ombudsman explains that the younger age should be favoured but often it is not. In addition, the report found that there were also cases of young people who were deported despite having a medical report attesting their minority of age.  In 2010, out of the 299 proceedings to check the age of irregular migrant child, 136 were diagnosed as adults.
    Source: El País, 20 July 2011

  • UK / WORKSHOP / “Building Strategies to Protect Children in an Irregular Migration Situation in the UK”, London, 6 October 2011

    PICUM and Praxis will hold a workshop on 6 October 2011 in London on “Building Strategies to Protect Children in an Irregular Migration Situation in the UK”. Despite legal entitlements to education, health care, and housing, children in an irregular migration situation face numerous barriers to exercising these rights in most European countries. They face high risks of poverty, exploitation, social exclusion, and violence. The goals of this workshop are for participants to build mutual understanding of the problems that children in an irregular migration situation face in accessing education, health care and housing in the UK, and collaborate to devise some concrete actions and strategies to improve on some of challenges identified. It is one in a series of seven intensive national workshops being carried out within the framework of the “Building Strategies to Improve the Protection of Undocumented Children in Europe” project; the others are being held in Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain. For further information, please visit the PICUM website.

  • USA / Obama administration announces that low priority immigration offenders, such as undocumented students, would not be targeted in deportation enforcement programs

    The Obama administration announced that undocumented students and other low-priority immigration offenders would not be targeted for deportation under enforcement programs. The announcement marks further steps to stop the deportation of people it considers “low-priority” immigrants like so-called Dream Act-eligible students and those with long-standing family ties in the country. These eligible students are those who irregularly entered the U.S. as children by their parents. In response to the announcement, the American Immigration Lawyers Association released a consumer advisory and warned individuals that the administration’s announcement should not be considered an Amnesty Program warning, that they may still be arrested by immigration officials and that undocumented persons should still take caution because of their status.
    Source: Los Angeles Times, 18 August 2011; American Immigration Lawyers Association, 18 August 2011

  • USA / New report showing legislative initiatives to date at the state level in access to education for undocumented students

    The National Immigration Law Center has put together a report with maps summarizing the advocacy and policies that have moved forward or failed to pass in the 2011 state legislative sessions in regards to access to education for immigrant students. In the month of August, Illinois and California signed into law legislation which would positively affect undocumented and immigrant students in accessing schools and scholarship programs. For example, in California, the new legislation allows undocumented students to apply for scholarships which they had previously been denied to, while at the same time, bills were enacted in Indiana, Alabama and Wisconsin which would restrict access to higher education, such as denying in state tuition to undocumented students.
    Source: The National Immigration Law Center, August 2011; Independent Voter Network, 27 July 2011

Detention and Deportation

  • AUSTRIA / New legislation allows detention of any asylum seeker, also legal residence not secured

    New Austrian legislation that entered into force on 1 July 2011 permits the detention of any newly arrived asylum seeker for up to 120 hours, and for up to 148 hours under certain circumstances. This so called “Mitwirkungspflicht” allows for the detention of anyone on arrival, including children or other vulnerable groups. This sixth change of the Austrian Alien’s Law within a period of two years also introduced more restrictive rules concerning legal migration and stay. For example, German language skills need to be proven before entry and an 18 month entry ban can be introduced if migrants on a temporary residence permit miss the deadline for prolongation of their residence permit. Security of stay is basically being made redundant through the possibility of putting into place extradition orders, for example if the financial situation of legally residing migrants is proved to be insufficient to sustain them. Furthermore residence bans can be introduced for administrative offences, such as crossing a red traffic light.
    Source: SOS Mitmensch, 1 July 2011; Asylkoordinatie, 1 July 2011

  • BELGIUM / Centre for Repatriation of Failed Asylum Seekers

    The Belgian Federal government works on a pilot project to start up a Centre for the Repatriation of Failed Asylum Seekers, which is said to open in Autumn of 2011, somewhere around Brussels and with a capacity of 70 people, targeted for those from the Balkans. If the project is successful additional centres can be started for more broad groups of migrants. Up to now all failed asylum seekers are housed in regular asylum centres and the government wants to separate failed asylum seekers from those currently in a procedure, in order to speed up repatriation.
    Source: Deredactie.be, 27 July 2011

  • CYPRUS / KISA accuses police of brutality against detainees

    After receiving a series of complaints, KISA has established that there has been an outbreak of police brutality against migrant detainees in almost all towns in Cyprus. From contacts with family members and migrant detainees who had been victims of this brutal police violence, it seems that the incidents of attacks tended to be in retaliation to the detainees’ protests against their living conditions while in detention and the state’s attempts to deport them. KISA believes that none of the detainees’ protests or actions were in any way aiming to harm other individuals, nor did they require such a disproportionate and violent punishment. KISA condemns all the incidents that have taken place in the detention centres around Cyprus, and urges the authorities to take all appropriate steps to ensure that the rights of all detainees are fully respected.

  • FRANCE / Deportation quotas and new immigration law in France

    During the summer of 2011, the number of deportations of foreigners in irregular situations has increased according to the French Ministry of Interior, which aims now at reaching 30,000 deportations for 2011. The new Law on immigration, voted in May 2011, and whose implementation decrees were published on 18 July 2011, has notably introduced new instruments, including an administrative retention delay of 45 days against 32 before (the administration would then save time to obtain consular laissez-passer from the origin countries) and a delay for the Magistrate of liberties and retention, when a foreigner is hold in a retention centre, of 5 days against 2 before. The text has also filled in a law gap which allowed, since the end of 2010, undocumented migrants to obtain a cancellation of the deportation because of the non-implementation of the European Directive on return.
    Source: France Soir, 28 July 2011

  • ITALY / Italian Immigration Return Decree becomes law

    On 2 August 2011, with the final vote of the Senate, the law decree on repatriation entered into force, despite the entire opposition voting against. It introduced the extension from 6 to 18 months of the detention of irregular migrants in the CIE (Centres for Identification and Expulsion) and the immediate expulsion from the country for irregular immigrants considered a danger to national security or to public order. The term for repatriation was also extended from 5 to 7 days. Minister of Home Affairs, Roberto Maroni, stated that the law decree was meant to transpose EU legislation on free movement of citizens and repatriation of irregular migrants.
    Source: La Repubblica, 2 August 2011

  • ITALY / Protests and strikes in Apulia region

    Apulia region in Italy has faced moments of utmost distress between major protests and strikes in the early days of August 2011. In the Salento area, irregular migrants went on the first self-organized strike, leaving the tomato fields without workforce. At the Cara Identification and Expulsion Centre in Bari, undocumented migrants started a serious revolt which reached the main roads in the city and hampered train traffic. They protested against the lack of regularization of their status after having spent more than half a year in the Cara Centre.
    Source: La Repubblica, 31 July 2011; 1 August 2011; 1 August 2011

  • MALTA / Riots at Safi detention centre for extension of detention to 18 months

    Protests degenerated into riots by asylum seekers inside Malta’s closed detention centre in Safi were quelled by the police using tear gas on 16 August 2011. Migrant detainees were protesting after their claims for protection were rejected at the appeals stage, with the result of having their detention extended from 12 to 18 months. The event is symptomatic of the arbitrary policy of detention that is heavily criticised by the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner.
    Source: MaltaToday, 16 August 2011

  • UK / Deaths in detention

    On 2 August 2011, it was reported that a detainee facing deportation at Campsfield detention centre in Oxford had killed himself. Fellow inmates denounced the psychological pressure suffered when one is announced he would be deported. This new incident comes amid discussion over detention conditions and another two deaths which both took place in the last month at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. It is within this context, that the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) raises the issue of how detention centres are run, by whom and what their exact purpose is? The IRR concludes by denouncing the lack of information on these deaths and calling for the Home Office and its contractors to be held accountable so “such deaths are not forgotten by the passage of time”.
    Source: The Guardian, 2 August 2011; IRR, 4 August 2011

  • UK / ‘Inhumane’ act of taking deportation reserves to airport condemned

    The chief inspector of prisons has condemned the immigration authorities for “a distressing and inhumane practice” of taking detainees to the airport as “reserves” for others being deported. Nick Hardwick says the “objectionable practice” by overseas escort staff at the G4S-run Tinsley House removal centre at Gatwick airport should stop immediately. Detainees were not told if they were a reserve. Consequently, some detainees, after preparing to return to their country of origin and experiencing associated distress, were returned to detention from the airport. Staff said that some detainees were returned to a different immigration removal centre and expressed concern about the impact of this on them.” Defending the practice, a UK Border Agency spokesman said: “Preparing more foreign nationals for removal than there is space for makes best use of taxpayers’ money.”
    Source: The Guardian, 26 July 2011

  • UK / Government hopes to decrease numbers of foreign national prisoners by sending them home-without their consent

    Many countries have prisoner transfer agreements with one another; Britain is reported to have such agreements with over a hundred countries and in 2009, 41 prisoners were removed under such arrangements. Some countries have older agreements which stipulate that the prisoner must either request the transfer or agree to it while some newer arrangements do not require prisoner’s consent before transfer. There is a new legislation which is working its way through the Nigerian government which will remove the requirement for prisoners’ consent from its transfer rules. The Institute of Race Relations discusses the implications of such legislation and what it will mean for the rights of those in the UK now, who have been living there decades, the impact of access to justice, and the concern that instant deportation may be a factor for those that have strong human rights reasons for staying.
    Source: Institute of Race Relations, 4 August 2011

  • UK / Northern Ireland detention center opens

    Larne House, the first detention center in Northern Ireland opened in July 2011. As noted in PICUM’s October 2010 Newsletter (http://picum.org/picum.org/uploads/file_/nl_en_07-10-2010.pdf), the Larne House will hold 21 men and women before they are removed from the UK. Before the building of the center, detainees were held in prisons. After much criticism of the practice, immigrants were then held in temporary police custody in Northern Ireland before being moved to detention centers in the UK.
    Source: Belfast Telgraph, 5 July 2011; Institute of Race Relations, 14 July 2011

  • UK / Guatanamo Bay firm to run detention centre in Scotland

    A firm who run part of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp have won the contract to manage Dungavel immigration removal centre, which is located in Scotland and operated by the UK Border Agency. The firm also manages private jails in the US and has been connected to allegations of human rights abuses, sexual assault and negligence. After a series of scandals involving rioting, racism and assault, they lost a contract to run immigration centres in Australia. The company will take over the running of Dungavel in September 2011 for five years with a contract that is worth £25 million.
    Source: The Daily Record, 15 August 2011

  • UK / In the past year the UK Border Agency has paid a total of £14.2 million in compensation claims

    The UK Border Agency (UKBA) recently released its annual report for 2010/11 and it showed that it paid a total of £14.2 million last year in compensation, legal costs and ex gratia payments, up almost £2 million on the previous year. This included payments to families who were unlawfully detained and removed, as well as £175,000 in compensation to an asylum seeker who was unlawfully detained and injured while in custody. Legal costs alone topped £7.7 million in just over 1,000 cases, compared with £3.8 million for 691 cases in 2009/10.
    Source: The Independent, 15 August 2011

  • UK / Prisons inspector raises concerns about “children’s unit” in detention centre

    The chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, has raised concerns about the children’s unit at Tinsley House removal centre at Gatwick airport, which has been refurbished and is due to reopen shortly. “It was anticipated that children would normally be detained for less than 72 hours, but they could be held for up to a week with ministerial authority,” says the inspection report, published on 26 July 2011. The inspectors were told that two types of family might be held at Tinsley House: those detained from aircraft and awaiting a flight back to their home countries, and families judged “unsuitable” for the new pre-departure accommodation (for more information see PICUM bulletins June 29 2011, 27 April 2011, 28 March 2011, 23 May 2011). “These plans to hold children sit uneasily with the government’s commitment to end child detention for immigration purposes,” promises the report. A UKBA spokesman confirmed that the Tinsley House family unit is to be used for families intercepted at the border and “in rare cases” for “criminal and other high-risk families who cannot be safely” held in the new pre-departure accommodation.
    Source: The Guardian, 26 July 2011

  • USA / Protests in San Francisco against the separation of migrant families

    Migrants, unions, churches and social service organizations marched through downtown San Francisco on 12 August 2011, to the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. They protested an ICE decision to implement the Secure Communities enforcement program, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deportations, even though some states have tried to withdraw from their implementation agreements with ICE. California legislators are poised to pass a bill calling on the state to do so also. Many immigrants brought their children to show that the impact of increased enforcement is the separation of families when some members are deported.
    Source: ImmigrationProf Blog, 14 August 2011

  • USA / Fewer youths to be deported in new policy

    The Obama administration has announced that it will suspend deportation proceedings against many undocumented migrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety. The new policy is expected to help thousands of undocumented migrants who came to the United States as young children, have graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces. White House and immigration officials said they would exercise “prosecutorial discretion” to focus enforcement efforts on cases involving criminals and people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws. Under the new policy, the government will review 300,000 cases of people in deportation proceedings to identify those who might qualify for relief and those who should be expelled as soon as possible, and, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, can provide relief, on a case-by-case basis The decision would, through administrative action, help many intended beneficiaries of DREAM Act legislation that has been stalled in Congress for a decade (See PICUM Quarterly Jan-March 2011). The new policy could also help undocumented migrants with family members in the United States.
    Source: New York Times, 18 August 2011

Publications and other Resources

  • CZECH REPUBLIC / STUDY / “Regularisation as one of the tools in the fight against irregular migration”

    A new study titled “Regularisation as one of the tools in the fight against irregular migration” has been released detailing a comprehensive analysis on irregular migration, labor market and regularization.  The report was published by three Czech organizations, Association for Integration and Migration, Organization for Aid to Refugees and Multicultural Centre Prague with two foreign partners, SOS Racismo –Mugak from Spain and Solidariedade imigrante from Portugal.  There is a breakdown of key international legislation and its impact as well as an evaluation of the European legislation and practice. In conclusion, the study suggests some concrete legislative changes and other recommendations on how to improve rights of labor migrants in the Czech Republic.
    Source: Association for Integration and Migration, 6 June 2011

  • UK / REPORT / The impact of the legal aid cuts on support provided to migrants by local authorities and the voluntary sector

    South East Strategic Partnership for Migration (SESPM) submitted a memorandum to the Legal Aid Bill on 1 August 2011. Based on a number of responses from local authorities, public services, and the voluntary and community sector across the south east of England, SESPM raise a number of key concerns about the effects of the Bill. All immigration cases will be excluded from legal aid except for asylum cases, advice on claims for asylum support (but not representation at appeal), challenges to immigration detention, and some judicial review cases (subject to specific restrictions). For more information on the Legal Aid Bill, see the UK Parliament and ILPA Information Sheet – Legal Aid Bill 2. Download the report (EN) here.
    Source: NRPF Network – August 2011 Bulletin

Events

  • BELGIUM / EVENT / Undocumented migrants theatre action to form a government in Belgium

    In view of the failure of regularisation, the association “Sans-Papiers Belgique” will organise a meeting in Brussels on 15 September 2011 and a theatre action to form a government. Created in January 2011 following the failure of the regularisation campaign of 2009 in Belgium, this association is claiming for a fair and sustainable regularisation lax, the end of precarious regularisations with the B permit, the end of scandalously long waiting periods and decriminalization of the status of undocumented migrants.
    Source: spBelgique – Le Collectif  Sans Papiers Belgique, 19 August 2011

  • SWITZERLAND / GFMD’s 5th Civil Society Days

    The Global Forum on Migration & Development Civil Society Days (GFMD CSD) organized by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) will take place in Geneva, Switzerland on 29 and 30 November 2011. The application process has opened and will close 13 September 2011. The two day conference welcomes civil society representatives from various sectors such as human rights, migration, development or labor.
    Source: GFMD Blog, August 2011

  • UK / TEDxEastEnd event

    Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN) is holding TEDxEastEnd on Thursday, 8 September 2011 on the issue of “Society without Borders” at the Human Rights Actions Center in London.  The event is to bring leading experts from an array of sector to discuss ideas and views on the future of migration. The objective of the conference is to explore how innovation can be used as a tool to tackle existing obstacles as well as addressing the positive aspects of migration. TED is an NGO who work to raise awareness on ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. To buy tickets at the cost of £1.25 please visit the MRN website.
    Source: Migrants’ Rights Network, 25 July 2011

Other News

  • BELGIUM / Drop the I-word says a Belgian columnist

    After the word ‘illegal’ was again used by a journalist in the Belgian press, Tom Naegels, Ombudsman of the Belgian newspaper, De Standaard, stated that the word should be dropped. The Ombudsman reiterated that the UNHCR made a recommendation in 2008, supported by the Flemish Union of Journalists, urging to avoid the term ‘illegal’ and instead encouraging the use of the Dutch term “mensen zonder papieren” (people with papers) or its French equivalent “sans-papiers”. The term has been used 1,500 times in the Flemish media in the past year.
    Source: De Standaard, 3 August 2011

  • UK / The Migration Observatory

    Launched in March 2011, the Migration Observatory is part of Oxford University’s Centre on Migration Policy and Society (COMPAS) and was created with the aim of providing comprehensive, independent and clear information on migration in the UK with the objective of encouraging debate and inform a large spectrum of audience as migration has been revealed as a key issue of concern for many in the UK as is explained in the launch video. For further information please visit the website of the Migration Observatory and explore the various tools offered to keep up to date on the issue of migration in the UK such as the news and commentaries, the briefings, data and resources and policy primers.
    Source: DMIIG-EPIM e-Newsletter, June 2011, Vol. 1 No. 8

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