Monday, 10 August 2009

'Legal' Migrants Now Being Targeted In Greek Clampdown

Whilst the hunger strike on Samos against the forced removal of migrants from Greece continues, news has leaked of further attempts by the Greek state to rid Greece of as many foreigners a possible. And it is not just those foreigners considered to be in the country 'illegally' that are now being targeted, families that already have a residence permit and legal status are under threat.

The Greek newspaper Kathimerini has revealed that a Greek law that stipulates that, in order for a migrant’s family to be allowed to remain in Greece, the head of the family must declare an income that is 20 percent more than that of an unskilled labourer, which amounts to 10,200 euros per year before taxes.

This is an almost impossible task for most migrant families and campaigners estimate that atlest 3,000 of the already 9,000 applications already made to remain will be turned down. It is of little comfort that the Interior Ministry have said that migrants can appeal the decision, especially given that the appeals system for asylum applications has already been severely restricted.

The recent massive clampdown on migrants in Greece is having unexpected consequences. It seems that so many migrants have been arrested in the past months, 2550 in July in Athens alone, that police cells are becoming over crowded. Senior officers in Attica and other parts of Greece have written to their superiors to complain.

The Interior Ministry has responded that is attempting to speed up the construction of three new 2,500 place detention centres (Aspropyrgos, west of Athens; Ritsona, north of Athens, and Evros, north-eastern Greece). Sources at the ministry said that the Ritsona center could be ready in October, although local officials and residents have vowed to keep up protests against its construction. Another detention centre to be sited near Kavala, northern Greece, has also run into local opposition and plans have been put on hold.

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