Migration and Struggle in Greece

Greek government reveals plans for undocumented immigrants

Posted by clandestina on 3 March 2015

Earlier today some government decisions concerning undocumented immigrants were released. All immigrants being kept in detention centers for more than 6 months will gradually be released. Then, they will be given a paper postponing deportation for a 6-months period. In this period they should leave Greece by themselves. Undocumented immigrants crossing greek borders will no more be arrested, but (as in the past) they will be given a paper saying that they have one month to leave Greece. If they get arrested after this one-month period, they will also be given a paper postponing deportation for 6 more months. Then they will enter an uncertain status, as the immigrants’ situation in Greece had (has) been for many years. Most of the detention centers will not close – perhaps not even Amygdaleza.
So we almost return to the situation as it was 3 years ago. Not exactly. Back then maximum detention was three months, not six, there were seven detention centers less, the nazi party percentage was 0,15%, not 7% and the immigrant population was much bigger – actually during last three years the total population of Greece has decreased, for the first time since the formation of the greek state.
And the police keeps chasing immigrants street vendors.
So we are far away from the recent far-right governance of Greece (especially the anti-immigrant peak of summer 2012 to autumn of 2013), but we are also far away from February 2011, when Syriza MPs were supporting the 300 immigrants’ hunger strike for immigrants’ legalization. No time to rest for the movement.

UPDATE: Government does not confirm that undocumented immigrants entering Greece will not be arrested. They say that it is false information leaked by the opposition party.

P.S.: As far as the statement that “undocumented immigrants entering Greece will not be arrested, but they will be handed a paper giving them one month to leave Greece”, well this was more or less the common practice until three years ago. Undocumented immigrants arrested at the borders were kept in police custody for three days for medical examinations and then were released with the one-month-to-leave paper in their hands. Those who were applying for asylum were kept in detention centers for up to 3 months, as a form of punishment, in order to discourage people from applying for asylum. Very few were granted asylum, very few were deported, some were occasionally arrested, all undocumented were facing police repression and all were trapped in Greece and controlled by smuggling mafias.

After “Xenios Zeus” operation the “one month to leave Greece” practice somehow changed and a percentage of those entering Greece (but not all of them) were kept in detention centers, usually from 6 to 18 months. The majority though of immigrants that were initially imprisoned when the new detention centers were (created 2.5 years ago) were immigrants who were arrested in Athens, not at the borders – and some of them had already been living in Greece for many years. But this was part of the scapegoating policy that first the “socialist” PASOK and then the right-wing ND governments followed in order to distract attention from austerity and strengthen the state repression apparatus. Actually it is partly because of the official anti-immigrant rhetorics of the state that the nazi power electoral percentage climbed from 0.15% to 7%, as hate speech had become “legitimized”.
After Pavlos Fyssas murder the situation started to change. Anti-immigrant hysteria was much reduced. In the last months (even before the elections) immigrants were silently being released, Komotini detention center was shut down past November.
As we wrote above, because of the so-called crisis lots of undocumented immigrants have left Greece. For the same reason, in the last years very few undocumented cross greek borders, mainly refugees from Syria war. In the same period, more than 200.000 Albanians who were legal for years became illegal, as legality in Greece is connected with work stamps. Crisis and not police repression became the main immigrants’ problem. Actually “hidden” police violence was extreme against immigrants even before the crisis and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to stop after Syriza victory in the elections.
Immigrant detention centers were created 2.5 years mainly for propaganda reasons related to social instability (the peak of anti-austerity demonstrations was on February 12, 2012, when many buildings were torched in Athens). As the situation has somehow stabilized the last year, the need for state rhetorics based on anti-migration was reduced, even under the last far-right government. One year ago, police unionists asked the government to shut down detention centers and replace them by “proper ones” funded by E.U. (200,000,000 euros are offered for this!).

5 Responses to “Greek government reveals plans for undocumented immigrants”

  1. Reblogged this on Refugee Archives @ UEL.

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