NEWS: Police unite to stem flood of foreigners

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Wed, 12 Aug 1998 07:30:23 -0700 (PDT)


Police unite to stem flood of foreigners
South China Morning Post, August 6, 1998

IMMIGRATION by Simon Macklin in London

European police forces have agreed upon joint measures to combat illegal
migration amid fears that Western Europe will be flooded by a wave of
foreign arrivals.

Operation Odysseus, involving police in all 15 European Union countries,
also comes as illegal immigrants are resorting to increasingly militant
behaviour.

Governments are particularly keen to find ways of dealing with people who
arrive legally but then claim asylum and refuse to return to their country
of origin.

Illegal workers who take jobs after overstaying short-term visas are also
causing problems, with thousands slipping across Eastern European borders -
some from as far away as China.

A budget of some 10 million ecu (HK$85.6 million) has been set aside for
Operation Odysseus to provide training for police and judges to deal
quickly with illegal immigrants.

Governments are keen to find ways of processing those arrested and
returning them to their country of origin as soon as possible.

The scheme, co-ordinated by a special unit based in Brussels, is also
examining ways of increasing border security and making it harder to forge
travel documents. The past few weeks have seen riots by illegal immigrants
being held in special prison camps in Italy while waiting for their cases
to be decided.

France has also seen a series of disturbances by migrants who the
Government wants to repatriate, mostly to North African countries.

But migrants' rights advocates claim the tough measures are often
unnecessary and immigrants are often forced into situations where their
status is changed so they become illegal residents.

Don Flynn, European officer for Britain's Joint Council for the Welfare of
Immigrants, said more migrants were finding that their status had changed
after they entered a country legally.

"Many countries are tightening their laws [without] a shred of evidence
there has been an increase in the number of migrants," Mr Flynn claimed.

The European Commission is trying to quantify the extent of illegal
migration, but has run into problems because countries define immigrants'
status in different ways.

However, experts agree that there are about eight million non-European
nationals among the 350 million people living in the EU. It is believed
that up to 10 per cent of them are illegal.


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