NEWS

Immigration bill article pulled after coalition rift

The government on Thursday removed from a draft immigration law a provision foreseeing the expulsion of immigrants found to have made false claims of racially motived violence after the proposed measure nearly caused a rift in the fragile coalition.

Deputy Interior Minister Leonidas Grigorakos removed the controversial provision from the draft bill on Thursday morning following vehement opposition by MPs of the junior coalition partner PASOK.

The aim of the provision had been to set the conditions for granting residence permits to immigrants on humanitarian grounds, including to victims of racist attacks. But ND deemed the provision could be subject to exploitation as migrants could make claims of racially motivated abuse in a bid to secure legal residence in Greece. With this reasoning, the conservatives argued that an amendment should be added foreseeing the migrants’ deportation in the event that the claims are discovered to be false.

Opposition MPs expressed outrage at the suggestion, with SYRIZA claiming that the proposed measure would exacerbate the impunity allegedly enjoyed by members of the coast guard and police force. Several PASOK lawmakers also objected, with Paris Koukoulopoulos saying the approval of such a measure would “make us the laughing stock of the European Parliament.”

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