Immigrants safe to return to Greece

Relief is at hand for hundreds of thousands of immigrants with expired residence permits, who will be allowed back into Greece after the summer holidays if they can prove they have applied for new permits, Athens said yesterday. «Immigrants will be able to cross the border by showing their passport and a receipt that they have submitted the paperwork for (new) residence permits,» Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said, in response to a question in Parliament by Synaspismos MP Maria Damanaki. Migrants had until June 30 to apply for new permits, but as a result of bureaucratic delays and a last-minute surge of applicants to understaffed local authority offices, many immigrants have still to receive the updated documents. Nearly a million immigrants live in Greece, which has a total population of around 11 million. Thousands more enter the country illegally every year, mostly via Turkey.