Please find below PICUM Bulletin which provides you with up to date and regular information on news items and policy developments concerning the basic social rights of undocumented migrants in Europe as well as in other key geographic areas of interests. We invite you to share this Bulletin widely with colleagues, partners and friends who you believe would be interested in supporting the mission and work of PICUM. We look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions. Thank you!
The PICUM Team
- UNITED NATIONS
- EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
- NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS
- HEALTH CARE
- LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS
- UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN
- UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
- DETENTION AND DEPORTATION
- PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES
- OTHER NEWS
- CRIMINALISATION OF UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS AND THEIR ADVOCATES
GREECE / Coordination with Frontex at Greek-Turkish border welcomed by Europe
Greece’s effort to seek help from Frontex to deal with irregular migration has been appraised by the EU. Frontex, the EU External Borders Agency, is responsible for coordinating operational cooperation between EU Member States. The “Rabit operation” ran from 2 November 2010 and ended on 2 March 2011 and was followed by the Poseidon joint operation to ensure “the continuity in effectively controlling the Greek-Turkish border, as well as in addressing irregular immigration in the Eastern Mediterranean region”. DG Home Commissioner Cecilia Malmström expressed her content with the operation and reaffirmed the need for Greece to maintain its efforts in dealing with irregular migration and welcoming arriving migrants in dignified and humane conditions. For more information on Rabit operation, click here.
Source: The Sofia Echos, 2 March 2011
ITALY / DEATH AT BORDER / “We saw 35 people drowning”
A large group of Tunisian immigrants, arrived by boat in Lampedusa on 14 March 2011, reported that they saw a smaller boat than theirs with 40 Tunisians on board sinking off the coast of Tunisia. Five of the 40 people on the boat were rescued, and arrived in Lampedusa on board the bigger boat, while the others disappeared and have not yet been found.
Source: La Repubblica, 14 March 2011
ITALY / Lampedusa: 3,721 immigrants arrived by boat in one weekend
There are now more than 5,000 immigrants, mainly Tunisians, in Lampedusa. 3,721 arrived between Friday 25 March and Sunday, 27 March 2011. Many migrants were placed in the detention centre, which is already over its capacity, while others have no other choice but to camp close to the beach. Struggling to cope with the extraordinary influx, the Italian police is transferring hundreds of migrants to other reception centres in Sicily, while the Italian government is trying to convince other regions in Italy to adopt its burden-sharing emergency plan. The Minister for Public Health Care, Ferruccio Fazio, said on Monday, 28 March 2011 that he fears a public health crisis and sent his inspectors to the island.
Source: La Repubblica, 14 March 2011
ITALY / Hermes operation extended
The Hermes operation set up by Frontex in cooperation with the Italian authorities to deal with the increasing influx of migrants in Lampedusa has been extended by Frontex for five months “with the aim of strengthening Europe’s border control response capability in the Central Mediterranean”. The operation will expand geographically to include the island of Sardinia.
Source: ENPI, 25 March 2011; Frontex, 24 March 2011
OHCHR / Statement by Ms. Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
On 3 March 2011, in her statement in the introduction of OHCHR’s Annual Report, the High Commissioner stressed that migrants, especially those in an irregular situation, are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and are often denied access to essential public services. Yet, as the landmark joint statement adopted by the Global Migration Group last September makes clear, being in an irregular situation does not and should not deprive migrants either of their humanity or their human rights. Under OHCHR’s chairpersonship in the second half of 2010, the Global Migration Group focused particularly on advocating for the human rights of migrants, including those in an irregular situation. OHCHR country and regional offices have also played a key role in promoting the human rights of migrants. For example, in Lebanon OHCHR regional office contributed to the development of a unified national contract for migrant domestic workers. These workers represent a significant proportion of the labour force there, but do not enjoy the same rights as nationals in comparable occupations.
Source: OHCHR, 3 March 2011
SOUTH AFRICA / First mission by an independent expert on migrants
UN Special Rapporteur, Jorge A. Bustamante, undertook an official visit to South Africa from 24 January to 1 February 2011, the first mission ever to the country by an independent expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the human rights situation of migrants. During his visit, Mr Bustamante focused on a wide range of issues, including irregular migrants and asylum seekers, access to health services of migrant workers and education of migrant children. Mr Bustamante visited the cities of Pretoria, Johannesburg, Polokwane, Musina and Cape Town, where he met with representatives of the government and the judiciary, as well as representatives of international and civil society organizations working on issues related to the human rights on migrants.
Source: The United Nations Office at Geneva, 21 January 2011
EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
EUROPEAN COMMISSION / Call for universal access to early childhood education and care
On February 17, Androulla Vassiliou, EU commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, announced the publication of a series of proposals that relate to the education and care of young children. The Commission is calling on member states to ensure universal access to pre-school education. EU education ministers will discuss the Commission’s proposals on 19-20 May 2011.
Source: Euractiv, 18 February 2011
PICUM NEWS / EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT / Voting of directive on ‘single permit’
The European Parliament (EP) voted on 24 March 2011 on a draft directive on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State and on a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in a Member State (“the single permit directive”). In view of this voting procedure, PICUM together with other European NGOs prepared a letter which was sent to MEPs in advance of the vote.
Source: European Parliament, 24 March 2011
GERMANY / PUBLICATION / “Illegality according to residence law”
The German Red Cross (DRK) and Caritas have jointly published a counsellor’s handbook entitled “Illegality according to Residence Law”. In the publication details the legal situation and recommends actions. The book deals amongst others with the sectors of education and schooling, health care, housing, social benefits and labour rights. The publication is available for download here.
Source: German Red Cross
SWITZERLAND / Preventing marriages with foreigners
A new ruling (Toni Brunner law – Art.98 al. 4 CC) came into effect on 1 January 2011, that anyone who wants to marry in Switzerland has to prove his or her legal residence in the country, which effectively excludes undocumented migrants from marriage. The efficiency and conformity of this rule with fundamental rights (marriage freedom, art. 12 CEDH) was raised by the O’Donoghue ruling of 14 December 2010 of the European Court of Human Rights. Indeed, if the law seems to conform in terms of proportionality of means deployed to prevent fake marriages, it does affect however the freedom of marriage by preventing in a general, automatic and undifferentiated way any foreigner without a legal entry or residence permit in Switzerland to get married, without investigation on a possible marriage in name only.
Source: Information Platform Humanrights.ch; Justletter
USA / New legislation in Utah is at fault with US federal immigration law
In the state of Utah, the governor signed two pieces of legislation, both of which are causing controversy from both sides in the immigration debate. The first is the “Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act” (H.B. 497) which copies several provisions found in the state of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, such as police officers needing to verify the immigration status of persons they stop for traffic violations. The Salt Lake City Police Chief did not like the position that law enforcement were put in as they would be required to act as immigration officials and it was worried that many people would be reluctant to contact the police if they were the victim of a crime out of fear that they would be turned over to immigration authorities. The second piece of legislation is the “Utah Immigration Accountability and Enforcement Act” (H.B.116), which attempts to establish a state immigrant worker permit while also imposing numerous requirements on applicants for the proposed status such as paying a fine of $ 2,500 if the applicant entered the country irregularly. The Legislature’s own attorneys have deemed the programs unconstitutional and the state has been in discussions with the Obama administration regarding the state’s desire to work cooperatively with the federal government to obtain the necessary waivers, exemptions or authorizations to implement the Utah laws, which will not go into effect until July 2013.
Source: The National Immigration Law Center (NELP), 9 March 2011; The Los Angeles Times, 19 March 2011; Ksl.com, 15 March 2011; The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 March 2011
USA / Protests in Indiana over proposed anti-immigrant legislation
Around 200 persons rallied at the state capital in Indiana against Senate bill 590. If it becomes law, police officers would have the power to contact federal authorities and check the immigration status of any person stopped on any violation, such as a broken taillight, if the officer had reasonable suspicion that the person was an undocumented migrant. Indiana United, a grass-roots group, organized the rally which included students and young families. The measure would also prohibit undocumented students at state colleges and universities from receiving in-state tuition rates. A second bill, House Bill 1402, would do the same, but the Senate bill also would bar them from receiving any state financial aid, grants or scholarships. One demonstrator was worried the bill could break up her family as her grandchildren were U.S. citizens but neither she nor the parents were.
Source: INDYSTAR, 16 March 2011
USA / The state of California is now linked up to an immigration enforcement network
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has linked all California police agencies to reveal immigrants – of all statuses – which were arrested for violating laws and subject to deportation. ICE now has the ability to tag arrests and travel to all of the state’s county jails to pick up immigrants accused of committing crimes. The fingerprints of everyone arrested by local police are now sent automatically to an electronic database reviewed by ICE, whose agents go to county jails to pick up immigrants thought to be deportable, including documented and undocumented immigrants who may have committed a crime. The program has the support of most of the Bay Area’s nine county sheriffs, who oversee the local jails. Some local enforcement leaders contend the program casts too wide a net, and erodes the relationship between police officers and the communities they are supposed to protect. Immigrant advocates say ICE’s own data contradicts the idea that it is deporting dangerous criminals as serious criminals are a minority among the thousands caught through the system and deported. They point out that 27% of the Californians picked up by Secure Communities have no criminal records and that some were sent to deportation proceedings for violations as minor as running a stop sign.
Source: Mercury News, 25 February 2011
AUSTRIA / Reform on aliens’ law challenges respect of human rights of irregular migrants
The planned amendment of Austria’s aliens’ law – the fifth in the past two years – has been adopted by the Council of Ministers, and is to be passed by the parliament on 29 April 2011. The law is criticized by a number of migrants’ rights groups and activists for clauses feared to run counter to human rights, such as detention for minors (including children with their parents), longer detention without hearings (up to 4 months), and allowing the police to enter homes where they suspect irregular migrants without needed a judge’s consent. A broad platform of activists and migrants’ groups will hold a demonstration against this law on 27 April 2011. For further information, please see Machen wir uns Stark (in German)
MALTA / One in four immigrants are refused health care treatment in Malta and many suffer from mental health problems
MALTA The Health for Undocumented Migrants and Asylum Seekers (HUMA) Network have published a report entitled “Access to Healthcare and Living Conditions of Asylum Seekers and Undocumented Migrants”. The research includes interviews with 100 migrants, with an average age of 30. It emerged from the research that about 70 per cent of immigrants in Malta believe they are suffering from mental health problems and almost half say they have practically no emotional support, according to a study on migrants’ healthcare access. The findings on perceived psychological health of migrants could be the result of traumatising experiences the migrants faced in their country of origin or during their trip out of their country. The situation highlights the need for access to mental healthcare for those who have or are enduring hardships.
Source: Times of Malta, 19 March 2011
UK / Detained migrants refused HIV treatment
On 22 March 2011, the UK-based charity Medical Justice published a report entitled “”Detained & Denied: The clinical care of immigration detainees living with HIV”. The report highlights how hundreds of detained HIV-positive immigrants are denied access to essential medication in British detention centres thus risking their lives. Evidence which emerges from the report will be presented in the Court of Appeal in April as ‘three HIV-positive migrants seek to have their detention ruled unlawful because of the centres’ failure to treat them properly’. Campaigners have expressed concerns as to the care given to HIV-positive patients particularly with regards to disruption in treatments during detention and deportation of detainees without supplies of medication.
Source: The Independent, 20 March 2011
UK / New process in sharing information of foreign nationals who have unpaid NHS debts
The government has said it will introduce new processes to share data about foreign nationals who have outstanding debts for National Health Service (NHS) treatment with the UK Border Agency. The move is part of a package of measures aimed at reducing “health tourism” that will see those who owe the NHS more than £1,000 barred from entering the UK, from an extension of their stay, or gaining citizenship. Emergency treatment will continue to be provided irrespective of status or ability to pay. The government will also allow failed asylum seekers on UK Border Agency support schemes, those who have a barrier to their return, and unaccompanied children under local authority care, to continue to receive free hospital care. However, failed asylum seekers who refuse to return to countries of origin will be barred from free care.
Sources: The Guardian, 21 March 2011; UK Border Agency, 18 March 2011; Migrants Rights Network, 21 March 2011
PUBLICATION / New issue of the Equal Rights Review published by ERT
On the 10 March 2011, the Equal Rights Trust (ERT) has publishes the sixth edition of the Equal Rights Review. This issue comprises a special section looking into the right to health equality including an interview with two of the most prominent experts in health policy, Norman Daniels and health rights, Paul Hunt. To read Volume 6 of the Equal Rights Review, click here.
LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS
CZECH REPUBLIC / Week of foresters: Campaign against exploitation of migrants in the forestry industry
From 21-27 March 2011, the NGOs Iniciativa za práva migrantů a migrantek (Initiative for rights of migrants men and women) and Iniciativa ne rasismu! (Initiative no to racism!) organized the Week for Foresters. The campaign is organized to draw attention to the frauds taking place in the system of employment of foreigners in the Czech forestry industry and to support migrant workers in forestry in their attempt to gain equal rights and payments and stop any further exploitation of foreign workers within the sector.
Source: Za Práva Migrantů; Initiciativa Ne Rasismu
UK / What justice for trafficked migrant domestic worker?
On 15 March 2010, the British court issued its first sentence on trafficking for domestic servitude. Ms Mwanahanisi Mruke was brought to the UK from Tanzania in 2006 on a domestic service visa arranged by her employer, Ms Saeeda Khan. While Ms Mruke had been promised £31 monthly salary, on arrival to London, her employer, Ms Khan, confiscated her passport, forced her to sleep on the kitchen floor and gave her two slices of bread a day for food. Ms Mruke worked 18 hours a day, every day for four years and was denied all contact with her family. She received a salary of £10 a month only during her first year of employment. Ms Khan received a 9 month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay £25,000 in compensation. Following the ruling, Kalayaan, the London-based NGO who brought the case to the attention of the authorities, expressed disappointment with the low sentence and questioned the level of compensation which amounts to only 90p for each hour Ms Mruke worked.
Source: BBC, 17 March 2011; Harrow Times, 17 March 2011
PUBLICATION / The ITUC releases new report on labour trafficking and slavery
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Anti-Slavery International have published “Never Work Alone” which focuses on the issue of forced labour in Europe. The report is the result of two-year research project working in partnership with trade unions and NGOs to share common experiences and examples of good practices. The report is to serve as a guide for trade unions and other civil society organisations to cooperatively tackle and combat modern-day slavery and trafficking of workers. To access the report, click here.
Source: ITUC, 16 March 2011
IRELAND / Call for new approach on violence needed this International Women’s Day
In light of the barriers facing irregular migrant women to access emergency shelters and financial support if they experience violence, the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) called on the new government to introduce some minor policy and administrative changes that may bring major improvements. The costly and lengthy administrative procedures for gaining an independent immigration status or permitting family reunification currently victimise migrant women and their children who experience partner -violence. In a statement released on International Women’s Day, Director Denise Charlton noted “This inaction, coupled with the lack of information available on Government websites spelling out what options exist for migrant women experiencing domestic violence who are dependent on a violent partner for their right to be in Ireland, puts them and their children at significant risk of harm”. The ICI has called for comprehensive guidelines and legislative reforms to allow migrant women to obtain an independent status if there is evidence of domestic violence.
Source: Immigrant Council of Ireland, 7 March 2011
NETHERLANDS / PUBLICATION / “Hiding and Seeking: Health Problems and Problems in accessing healthcare of undocumented female immigrants in the Netherlands”
Published in February 2011, this PhD thesis by Marianne Schoevers provides an insight into the health status of undocumented women in the Netherlands, the problems they experience, and the obstacles that prevent their access to healthcare. In total, 100 undocumented migrant women participated in individual interviews with GPs and research assistants, as well as focus group sessions. Gender-discrimination, decreased access to healthcare, poor living and working conditions as well as permanent stress of being arrested, contributed to these women’s perception of their health as ‘poor’ and ‘comparably worse’ then that of undocumented men or legally-residing migrant women. Seeking healthcare less often then legal immigrants, they reported almost double the amount of health problems. Often dependent on male partners, employers, support organisations or others, they were found to have a high prevalence of sexual violence, low use of contraception, higher than average abortion rates and delayed pregnancy care. Identifying both institutional and social obstacles, Schoevers proposes reforms for patient-held record system and provides targeted recommendations for GPs, healthcare workers and policy makers. Source: M.A. Schoevers, “Hiding and Seeking: Health Problems and Problems in accessing healthcare of undocumented female immigrants in the Netherlands”, (Nijmegen: Radboud Universiteit, 2011).
SPAIN / Undocumented women who report abuse will not be expelled
According to a proposed new amendment to the 2009 Law on Immigration, an undocumented migrant woman who reports abuse will receive special protection: an expulsion file will not be opened, and if one already exists, it will be suspended. In addition, this special protection is also extended to children of the victim. The current Immigration regulation does not provide any special protection for these women although Article 32 (4) of the Integrated Protection Measures against Gender Violence mentions that the definition of women extends to include “immigrants”. This new draft amendment would provide a clear provision for a concrete implementation of Article 31(a) of the 2009 Immigration Law which specifically focuses on “Temporary residence and work of foreign women victims of gender violence”.
Source: El País, 7 Feburary 2011; El Público, 7 February 2011
UN / Civil society organisations highlight situation of Migrant Domestic Workers
The United Nations 55th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place in New York from 22 February to 4 March 2011. Government officials, UN and civil society representatives met to share experiences and agree on priority actions to deal with the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This year’s priority themes included employment and decent work. “Dignity for Domestic Workers – the ILO Convention and Beyond” was one of many side -events hosted by NGOs to highlight the many domestic workers rights campaigns aiming to bring respect and recognition to the domestic workforce, and advocate for a strong convention on domestic work at the International Labour Organisation expected to be finalised in June 2011. For information visit the on the CSW website and for details of civil society events the UN Women website.
USA / Undocumented migrant woman faces custody battle
An undocumented Guatemalan woman, whose child was adopted without her consent while she was in detention, has now taken her case to the Missouri Supreme Court. Encarnación Bail Romero was arrested during an immigration raid of a poultry plant in 2007. She was detained without the possibility to make care arrangements for her son Carlos, a U.S. citizen who was just six months old. Carlos was placed in a care of a couple when he was one year old and officially adopted by them when he was two. While in detention, Encarnación was not allowed to participate in the custody case and her parental rights were terminated. While the Missouri Supreme Court recently recognised that the mother’s right to due process had not been upheld by the lower court, they have so -far failed to issue a decision to reunite the mother and child. The Women’s Refugee Commission have set up a campaign to keep undocumented women and their children together. For more information, click here.
Source: Huffington Post, 8 February 2011
PUBLICATION / Testimonies of violence against West African women migrants in the Maghreb
A book entitled “From Violence to Persecution: Women on the Road to Exile” written by Smaïn Laacher examines the extreme violence experienced by West African women migrating irregularly through the Maghreb. Through gathered direct testimonies from migrant women and input from NGOs working in the region, the author considers the causes, forms, and sources of violence against these women, examines prevention strategies, and delineates the psychological, physical and cultural effects in terms of their journey, future and return to their country of origin. “What help can migrants expect from authorities who consider their very existence illegitimate?” he asks, noting how Europe’s obsession with ‘controlling the flow’ of migrants through outsourcing migration management has destroyed the concept of asylum in the Maghreb. While migrant women are subject to rape en route, “simply because they are women”, this violence is not considered by UNHCR protection officers when deciding grounds for protection. This legal paradox leads Laacher to call for a legislative and policy overhaul at both national and international level.
Source: Liens Socio, 3 January 2011; Le Monde, 1 March 2011
UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
FRANCE – THE NETHERLANDS / A Mongolian undocumented father permitted to be united with his children
Alta Ganna and her two children were arrested in the Netherlands in November 2010. Upon discovering that she was pregnant, the authorities released Alta and her sons, giving them 48 hours to leave the Dutch territory; they fled to Rennes in France. Shortly afterwards, her husband, Amarjargal Ganna, was detained in Amsterdam. Tragically, Alta gave birth prematurely in early January to a third son and died just after giving birth. The Dutch government wished to deport him and not allow him to recognize his third son but the French government intervened and allowed him to be re-united with his newly-born child and with his two sons currently staying with Mongolian family friends in Rennes.
Source: TF1 News, 7 February 2011
GERMANY / Individual criminal acts can lead to loss of right to stay for whole families
The German Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht – BVerwG) in Leipzig ruled on 11 January 2011 that an entire family with irregular residence status can lose their right to stay, if one of the parents is found to have committed a crime. A family, who would have been eligible for the right to stay -regulations of 2008 was denied regularisation on these grounds. The Court found that neither the Constitution nor international law would bind German authorities in this case.
Source: Newsletter Migration und Bevölkerung
IRELAND / ECJ guidance prompts examination of 120 immigration cases
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has ordered an examination of around 120 immigration cases involving Irish citizens whose parents are non-EU nationals after a decision on the Zambrano case by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on 8 March 2011. The ECJ found that a Member state could not deport the parents of a child with EU citizenship, or refuse them a work permit, as that would deprive the child of certain rights. Minister Shatter said the decision would only apply to children with Irish citizenship. Department of Justice officials will also examine cases in which the possibility of deportation is being considered in order to ascertain the number of cases in which there is an Irish citizen child and to which the ECJ judgment is relevant, such as the case of a Cork couple who had been living in fear after they had lost their appeal against a deportation order given in December. Consideration will also be given to those cases of Irish citizen children who have left the State because their parents were refused permission to remain.
Source: Irish Examiner, 21 March 2011; The Irish Times, 9 March 2011
NETHERLANDS / Minister announces end of detention of unaccompanied minors
The Dutch Minister for Immigration and Asylum, G.B.M. Leers, announced on 10 March 2011 that unaccompanied migrant children will no longer be placed in detention. Unaccompanied minors will instead receive temporary housing through the central asylum authority, Central Organ for the Shelter Reception of Asylum Seekers (COAS – Centraal Orgaan Opvang Asielzoekers), who will also act as the official guardian for unaccompanied minors. The Dutch Minister for Immigration stated that detention of undocumented minors will only take place in ‘extreme circumstances’, for example for minors with a criminal history; when removal is planned within two weeks; when minors fail to report or leave the asylum premises without permission; when their age cannot be determined. The change comes following criticism from the Council of Europe on the detention of undocumented minors in the Netherlands. Until recently unaccompanied minors in the Netherlands were placed in detention if they entered the Dutch territory without documentation. Three hundred minors were detained in 2009.
Source: NOS, 10 March 2011; Jesuit Refugee Service Europe, 15 March 2011
USA / Legislation introduced in Arizona that negatively affects undocumented students
In the state of Arizona, two pieces of legislation recently introduced could keep students from enrolling in kindergarten through to 12th grade (K-12) and ban their access to higher education. Hundreds of students are organizing protests and walkouts against the bills. One provision of the bills would require parents of K-12 students to present proof that their children are in the United States legally. For parents who fail to comply, schools would be required to notify law-enforcement agencies. A principal of a high school noted that since last year, his school lost hundreds of students, many from immigrant families who left Arizona because of its hostile laws and employer sanctions aimed at unauthorized workers. Because funding depends in part on the number of students, the high school has taken a major financial hit. Critics argue that withholding education from children who come into the country irregularly through no fault of their own would create an underclass and harm the state’s long-term interests.
Source: Alternet.org, 15 March 2011
USA / National Legislation Regarding Immigrant Access to Education
The NGO National Immigration Law Centre (NILC) has started to track US state bills addressing access to education for immigrant students. For example, a number of bills have been introduced in the last months which either improve access or create barriers for undocumented students. For example, in 10 US states, bills providing access to in-state tuition for students who meet certain criteria, regardless of status, have been proposed, while in 6 US states, bills have been introduced which would impose barriers to basic -high school education. The table which provides legislation and the summary state-by-state table of the bills improving access and creating barriers and will be updated by NILC periodically.
Source: National Immigration Law Centre (NILC), 7 March 2011
DETENTION AND DEPORTATION
BULGARIA / Two new detention centres
Two centres for irregular migrants in the villages of Liubimetz and Pastrogor will be ready to function in the middle of February, said the Bulgarian Interior Minister Tzvetan Tzvetanov during a press -conference on 24 January 2011. The centres are part of the new national strategy to face irregular migration pressure from Turkey.
Source: BNT, 24 January 2011; Actualno, 24 January 2011
FRANCE / Daily violence in Mesnil-Amelot retention centre
In France, the Mesnil-Amelot detention centre experienced an increase of daily violence during the week of 4 February 2011. An Algerian was deported despite injuries due to resisting two previous deportation attempts in the previous days; a Moroccan was deported despite having swallowed razor blades; a detainee was taken for deportation although hospitalized for self-inflicted injuries but then brought back to the retention centre following the reaction of passengers in the plane. In the same centre in the same week, the NGO La Cimade met three young men saying they are under the age of 18, one of them terrified and refusing to eat, one denounced when he went to the Post Office and another one arrested while filing a regularisation request.
Source: Cimade, 4 February 2011
FRANCE / 13 month old baby in detention centre in Lyon
Following ten days in a detention centre in Lyon and despite external mobilisation for their cause, a Kosovar couple and their 13-month old baby were deported back to Pristina. The couple was afraid to return as the husband has been threatened by the wife’s family who has not consented to the marriage. The father had been granted a permanent work contract but failed to send the documents on time for his claim to be accepted and their asylum application was rejected on the bases it was “unspontaneous, confusing and not very credible”.
Source: Le Parisien, 13 January 2011; Le Parisien, 20 January 2011
NETHERLANDS / Government aims to crack down on undocumented Moroccans
The Dutch government wants to use all diplomatic channels for a quicker future repatriation of undocumented Moroccan migrants in the Netherlands. The Dutch Immigration Minister proposes the exchange of fingerprints to speed up their return. The Dienst Terugkeer & Vertrek (The Service Return & Departure) states there are still 150 Moroccans waiting to be returned.
Source: De Telegraaf, 11 February 2011
SPAIN / ECHR asks the Spanish government not to expel 13 Saharawi to Morocco
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has decided to implement Article 39 of the Regulation to ask Spain to temporarily suspend the expulsion order of 13 Saharawi, enacted by the Spanish National Court. 13 Saharawi citizens arrived by boat to Fuerteventura on 5 January 2011 and requested political asylum claim which was denied. The ECHR has justified its request based on the reason that if they were deported back to Morocco they would face problems with the Moroccan authorities because of their ethnic origin.
Source: El Público, 1 February 2011; El País, 2 February 2011
UK / Report Released on Immigration Bail Hearings
Over a period of eight months, 18 observers travelled to attend 115 immigration bail hearings at four courts throughout the UK. The systematic observations demonstrated that there is an overarching issue of lack of due process, underpinned in many cases by a culture of disbelief. Overall, the survey showed that the bail system is fundamentally flawed in terms of providing a fair hearing and that is leaving aside the question of whether a state should have the right to impose administrative detention. The report highlights clear differences between practices at the different centres, as well as between different judges, and the frustrations and repeated unfairness of the process as experienced by the lay people in the courts, be it the observers, their families, sureties or other detainees.
Source: Campaign to Close Campsfield, 2011
USA / Coalition of NGOs urge President Obama to halt deportations
Leaders from 24 immigrant -advocacy organizations in the United States took part in a meeting which was organized by the Mexico branch of Oxfam International and aimed at forging alliances and adopting common stances on immigration. The organizations urged President Barack Obama to issue an executive order halting deportations until a long-promised immigration overhaul is approved. They criticized the Secure Communities Program, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiative launched in 2008 and designed to identify immigrants in U.S. jails who are deportable under immigration law, saying it caused immigrants to be viewed as criminals and a threat. It was reported that 400,000 people were deported last year through that program and that figure will likely increase with the increase in state legislations which sought to criminalize undocumented migrants.
Source: Latino Fox News, 16 March 2011
UK / New process for return of families includes “pre-departure accommodation”
Further to the Coalition government’s promise to end child detention in May 2010, a new process has been unveiled for the return of families. Families who refuse to depart from the UK may be held in ‘pre-departure accommodation’ for up to 72 hours, or in ‘exceptional circumstances’, up to a week. The Government has assured that the centre, a converted special needs school near Gatwick, will be family-friendly and only used as a last resort as advised by an Independent Family Returns Panel, which will take into account the welfare of children. However, families will not be free to come and go, and the centre will have 24-hour security and a 2.3 metre high perimeter fence. Some civil society organizations have expressed concern that this ‘pre-departure accommodation’ is therefore still essentially detention, and will still have significant negative effects on children. As its use is based on the same justifications as detention (refusal to cooperate with return), there is also a risk that it will be used routinely, rather than as a measure of last resort. Its inclusion in the new process demonstrates that the government has failed to properly examine the alternatives to secure facilities for the removal of families.
Source: UKBA, 28 February 2011; Migrant Rights Network, 10 March 2011; The Guardian, 10 March 2011
USA / Detention is a rule when it should be the exception
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has published its Report on “Immigration in the United States: Detention and Due Process”. The report contains the conclusions of an investigation the IACHR carried out to ascertain whether policies and practices on immigrant-related detention in the United States were compatible with the country’s international obligations in the area of human rights. The report noted that the detention of undocumented immigrants in the United States had become a general rule when it should be the exception, adding that many of the detainees were being held under unacceptable conditions. The Inter-American Commission is particularly troubled by the lack of legal representation provided or facilitated ex officio by the State for cases of unaccompanied children, immigrants with mental disabilities, and other persons unable to represent themselves.
Source: IACHR Press Release, No. 21/112, 17 March 2011; Reuters, 17 March 2011; Fox News, 18 March 2011
PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES
BELGIUM / Investigation on the precarious living conditions of homeless and undocumented people in Belgium
In a newly published report, Ides Nicaise and Ingrid Schockaert of the research group HIVA (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium) investigated the precarious living conditions of homeless and undocumented people in Belgium. The study results from a critical reflection on the EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), a widely used instrument to measure poverty and social exclusion. However, some groups, among them the homeless and undocumented, are strongly under-represented in the EU-SILC. The study by HIVA aims at filling this knowledge gap through a targeted survey on income, household composition, labour market participation, accommodation, health and social integration.
To read the study, click here.
NETHERLANDS / Migration and Housing Rights Conference
The Housing Rights Watch conference on Migration and Housing Rights in Europe will be held on 19 May 2011 in The Hague. The conference is organised with two aims in mind, firstly ‘to explore legal entitlements and protection granted to migrants with respect to housing rights and the challenges migrants face in accessing them” and secondly “to share relevant case law and explore possibilities for strategic litigation in housing rights at all levels (national, EU, Council of Europe, UN)”. Registration is open and the deadline is 29 April 2011.
GFMD / Draft concept paper: “Taking Action on Migration and Development – Coherence, Capacity and Cooperation”
On 3 December 2010, Mexico had handed over the Chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) to Ambassador Eduard Gnesa, Special Ambassador of Switzerland for International Migration. On 21 Janaury 2011, the new Chair proposed, among the three thematic clusters under which meetings or events would be organised, the theme; “Addressing irregular migration through coherent migration and development strategies”. The Puerto Vallarta session on irregular migration saw a deepening of this important debate since its first appearance in Manila in 2008; and a recommendation that it remains on the GFMD agenda. While the focus was on migrant vulnerability and protection, participants also addressed such issues as inter-state cooperation based on shared responsibility, the causes of irregular movements and the right ‘not to migrate’, the need for sustainable development and decent labour conditions in source countries, and the various effects of irregular migration. The concept paper is available here.
USA / Shooter of 9 year old girl and father convicted by Arizona jury
On 22 February, in the State of Arizona, a jury sentenced Shawne Forde, the leader of a small vigilante group opposed to irregular immigration, to death. She was on trial for the killing of a father and his 9-year old daughter following a home invasion. Ms Forde was the founder and leader of the Minutemen American Defence group, which often leads protests against irregular immigration and patrolled the Arizona-Mexico border armed with weapons. In May 2009, she, along with two other members of the group, entered the home by posing as border patrol and immigration enforcement agents. After killing Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul Flores, both American-born U.S. citizens and wounding the mother, Gina Gonzales, they continued to steal money and jewellery from the house. It is expected that the case will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court. Her accomplices are to stand trial later this year.
Source: CNN, 23 February 2011; Reuters, 22 February 2011
USA / Video game which depicts undocumented migrants trying to cross the border waits approval
Currently pending release, the mobile application created by Owlchemy Labs involves navigating a rickety truck full of immigrants across what is purportedly the Mexican-American border. It is titled “Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration”. The more immigrants you transport alive, the higher your score, and crossing the border gives each saved immigrant a green card. The makers of the programme insist that the game was created with only sympathy toward immigrants in mind and was inspired by the frustration that friends experienced in trying to immigrate to the US.
Source: Time-CNN, 8 February 2011; Fox 35, 12 February 2011
USA / SURVEY / Respondents in polls favour citizenship for children born in the US of undocumented migrants and say enforce immigration laws
In a recent poll from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, nearly 57% of respondents in the U.S. oppose changing the constitution to not allow the children of undocumented migrants to become citizens. Of the 1,385 persons polled, 42% say the priority should be to tighten border security and more strictly enforce immigration laws but at the same time create a way for people undocumented to become citizens if they meet certain conditions. Somewhat fewer (35%) prioritize better border security and stronger enforcement, while 21% say the priority should be to find a way for undocumented persons to become citizens. At the same time, the public remains supportive of Arizona’s controversial immigration law with roughly six-in-ten (61%) approving of the law. Another poll from Rasmussen Reports, which surveyed 1,000 likely voters in the US, found that about two thirds of respondents said the US should enforce existing immigration laws instead of passing new ones. 67% of those surveyed by Rasmussen Reports said new laws are not needed, while 24 % said they are. As well, 67% said states should be able to pass their own laws if they feel the federal government is not doing enough to control immigration.
Source: United Press International, 23 February 2011; Rasmussen Reports, 22 February 2011; Pew Research Centre, 24 February 2011
USA / Evangelical website addresses immigration debate in the US and undocumented migrants
Undocumented.tv is a website that is targeted towards Evangelical Christians and addresses immigration and undocumented migrants. It challenges many of the topics which typically surround the immigration debate in the US such as paying taxes, learning English, and irregular migration and looks to reach out to church youth in educating them further on the issues surrounding undocumented migrants. The website includes blogs and video’s and is very conscious in the usage of the word “undocumented”.
Source: Undocumented.tv, 22 March 2011
UN / Call for project grant applications
The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery has opened application process for 2012 project grants “for programmes of humanitarian, legal and financial assistance to individuals whose human rights have been severely violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery”. The Fund supports projects which highlight the importance of the victims’ need for security, education, independence, and reintegration. The deadline for application is 31 May 2011 and the application form can be downloaded here.
CRIMINALISATION OF UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS AND THEIR ADVOCATES
MEXICO / Passing of new immigration bill which would decriminalize migrants
The Mexican Senate voted unanimously on 24 February 2011 to decriminalize undocumented migrants. The bill still has to be sent to Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies for approval before executive signature. It grants migrants the right to file legal complains when they are victims of crimes, regardless of status, as well as guarantee access to education and emergency medical care. If the new measure were to become law, no person in Mexico could be found guilty of a crime based solely on an irregular immigration status. Notwithstanding the bill’s progressive bent, the original proposal, submitted 9 December 2011, contained several proposals targeting undocumented immigrants that drew criticism from civil society groups. One clause would have allowed people to report undocumented immigrants to the Mexican authorities anonymously. Another would have fined employers who hire undocumented immigrants by up to $5,000. One of the most controversial proposals would have given the federal police the authority to arrest undocumented immigrants outside the border zone, which critics said would have paved the way for U.S.-style raids. However, all of those measures were removed from the bill before the Senate approved it.
Source: Americas Society, 3 March 2011; People’s World, 7 March 2011
NETHERLANDS / Criminalization of irregular migrants
A coalition called “Maak Mensenrechten niet strafbaar” (Don’t criminalize human rights) of civil society organisations and churches have protested against the Dutch government’s plans to criminalise undocumented stay by drafting a common declaration. A grand coalition of the two largest labour unions, UNICEF, several church organisations, the association of Frisian municipalities, jurists and several law professors supported the declaration. On 17 March refugee organisations organized the “Nacht van de Vervanging” (Replacement Night) to protest against criminalisation of undocumented migrants. As part of the demonstration, some well-known locals in Utrecht symbolically went to spend half an hour in jail in solidarity with undocumented migrants who might soon be considered ‘criminal’. A petition instigated by the Dutch church organization Kerk in Aktie and Dutch protestant Churches, highlights human rights as fundamental in the migration debate and stresses that criminalization of irregular migrants has a negative impact and does contribute to building a safe society. You can read the full petition here.
Source: La Strada International; Friesch Dagblad, 9 March 2011; RTV Utrecht, 18 March 2011