NEWS

Migrant center to be expanded

A temporary detention center for undocumented migrants which opened in Amygdaleza, northwest of Athens, over two months ago but has been operating at a fraction of its intended capacity is to be extended to accommodate up to 1,000 illegal immigrants, aides to Public Order and Citizens? Protection Minister Nikos Dendias told Kathimerini on Monday, revealing that a tender has been awarded for the completion of the project.

Iliohora, the company that was granted the tender for the project -- budgeted at 1.5 million euros -- built three of the existing 12 wings of the facility in Amygdaleza. It has been charged with extending the site, which currently accommodates just over 200 migrants, to hold some 1,000 within the next two months.

The sources told Kathimerini that Dendias is planning the creation of similar centers in northern Greece -- one near Deskati in the prefecture of Grevena and the other in Konitsa, near Ioannina. In his speech before the confidence vote over the weekend, Dendias called for more support from the European Union?s border monitoring agency, Frontex, to curb a relentless influx of immigrants, noting that Turkish authorities were not cooperating.

In a related development, two parties -- the right-wing Independent Greeks and the extreme-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) -- tabled separate proposals in Parliament seeking the abolition of a citizenship law granting immigrants greater rights.

Passed by socialist PASOK in 2010, the law allows second-generation immigrants whose parents have been living in Greece legally to apply for Greek citizenship. In a speech to Parliament on Friday that set out his government?s policy program, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras followed up on his pre-election pledge to crack down on illegal immigrants, calling for a debate in Parliament on crime and illegal immigration, with the aim of changing laws granting citizenship to immigrants.

PASOK and Democratic Left, the two other parties in the coalition, oppose changes to the legislation.

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