PICUM says thank you!

By Elisabeth Schmidt-Hieber,
PICUM Communications Officer

St. Nicholas visiting undocumented Afghan migrants staying in the Église du-Béguinage (Beguinage Church) on 8th December in Brussels, Belgium; an initiative of the local volunteer group CRER – Coordination Contre les Rafles, les Expulsions et pour la Régularisation (Coordination against raids and deportation and for regularization) to bring presents to undocumented migrant children.

As Christmas approaches, PICUM has received many seasonal greetings underlining the large number of activities and campaigns taking place in support of undocumented migrants’ rights and the impact and success of our growing network around the world.

Throughout 2013, we have been following our members’ tireless efforts to put rights into practice, be it through providing healthcare to undocumented migrants or facilitating access to education, housing and shelter.

And there were successes. The introduction of access to health care for undocumented migrants in Sweden in May this year, to just name one example.

However, there were also setbacks. The United Kingdom, for instance, discussed proposals to check the status of migrant children at school and oblige landlords to control their tenants’ identity documents were released, while vans roamed the streets in some areas telling irregular migrants to ‘go home’.

Indeed, the trend to link irregular migration to economic concerns often led to measures which criminalise undocumented children, women and men, fuelling bad-feeling towards migrants and making entire communities more unstable and unsafe.

This criminalisation plays out through criminal law measures, administrative detention or other punitive measures under administrative law, and through policies and practices that further perpetuate populist discourses.

PICUM has made the case regarding the presence, reality and rights of undocumented migrants at EU and international level.

Our ongoing work to challenge criminalisation is based on vital evidence, experience and expertise stemming from members’ work at the frontline and coordination of our network through key thematic working groups on labour; health care; access to justice; children and families; and legal strategies.

Grateful for the opportunity to work with such dedicated organisations and individuals in 2013, we look forward to continued joint efforts and impact in 2014.

This is the year that the European Commission will develop its next multi-annual work programme on migration, and we look forward to engaging our members in defining our priorities and shaping this programme so that we may bring about real improvements in the daily realities of undocumented migrants in the coming years.

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