New Immigration Laws Worry Illegal Aliens In Europe

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After some delay because of differing positions among the 27-member countries, the European Union (EU) has finally set up stricter immigration laws which guide the handling and expulsion of apprehended illegal aliens. This is part of an effort to come up with a uniform European immigration and asylum policy by 2010.

With rising tide of resentments over lack of jobs, crowding, surging crime, and slowing of the economy, EU parliament on June 19, 2008 overwhelmingly passed the tough controversial measure. Here it is at a glance:

European Union Rules on Illegal Aliens (2008)
-Option to leave voluntarily within 30 days of apprehension
-Illegal aliens confined in special detention cells, not jails.
-Provide for basic human rights and access to legal help
-Maximum detention of 18 months (1.5 years)
-Reentry ban for those forcibly expelled
-2 years for governments to implement
-Workplace raids vs. illegal aliens not permitted

The new measure had been criticized by Amnesty International (AI) and other human rights groups asserting that the rules do not guarantee the return and dignity of the migrants. (USA Today, /AP (06/21/08)

Migrante-Europe’s chairman of the board, Rev. Jaime Taguba opined, “”We believe that enforcing these rules on undocumented migrants is counterproductive and would only exacerbate the crises in the EU and the countries of origin of these undocumented migrants because these rules go against social justice and progress, and are inhumane.” Taguba asked the EU to “adhere to conventions, treaties, and agreements, institute measures to de-criminalize the undocumented and take measures to remove the basis of ‘illegality’ by, among others, adopting regularization programs.” Inquirer (06/21/08, Uy,V.)

European Union (2006):
-8 million illegal aliens
-1 million apprehended
-500,000 caught inside EU
-200,000 deported mostly from Spain, Italy, Greece

Philippines:
-124,000 undocumented Filipinos in EU
-40,000 in France, 20,000 in Italy

USA:
-11 million illegal aliens, mostly from Mexico
-273,000 deported in 2007
-Workplace raids permitted

The controversy behind illegal immigration opens anew fresh wounds on countries like the Philippines which depend on overseas workers’ foreign money remittances to boost its local economy. In the short term, Filipinos hail jobs abroad as boon to survival, but as employment abroad grow scarcer, workers are displaced, exploited, and fall prey into a life of illegality. Separated from their families for years, they go through untold suffering and pain. There is little the government can do.

As Rev. Taguba pointed out, the long term solution to forced migration is to “fundamentally address the structural problems of economic backwardness, political dependence and neo-colonial enslavement of the home countries of these undocumented migrants.”

It is clear the Philippines need to make local employment more available so its citizens can resist the lure of going abroad to find jobs. The government must work doubly hard to convince its citizens that there is a future in the country—They can work and build meaningful productive lives while waiting for a chance to immigrate legally abroad. =0=

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