Immigration policy gets a re-evaluation

The government’s new bill on immigration, 15 years after the beginning of the influx, has come at the same time as the international community’s review of the situation in the International Organization for Migration’s report «World Migration 2005.» The report estimates that there are about 175 million migrants in the world at the moment, 36-39 million of them in Europe, where the aging of the population due to a declining birth rate has imposed a need for continuously evolving policies to attract migrants. A table on demographic change clearly shows that in most countries, including Greece, the population increase is due to immigration. According to the report, there are four challenges that these receiving countries will have to deal with: the management of social conflicts; the need to provide support for assimilation; competitiveness within the world economy; and threats to security. The latter in particular has led to far stricter measures toward migrants in recent years. Pressure to migrate is expected to remain high since the divide between developing and developed countries does not appear to be narrowing. The reasons for migration are not just economic but also include demographic factors in the sending countries. Every year, for example, 40 million people are added to the workforce in the sending countries. In many of these countries, remittances from migrants are a driving force in their economies. Between the end of the 1980s and the end of the 1990s, these remittances doubled, totalling $72 billion in 2001. In 36 of the 153 developing countries, these remittances are larger than all other forms of revenue, both state and private, while in many countries they are larger than the revenue from the countries’ most important export. OECD proposal As part of its re-evaluation of migration policies, the European Commission recently approved a proposal by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to carry out a survey of the contribution made by economic immigrants in Europe to the receiving and sending countries. The program Gaining from Migration is aimed at evaluating the current situation and determining policies that will maximize the benefits to the EU from migrations. In Greece, the Institute for Immigration Policy (IMEPO), which is participating in the program, is carrying out two studies. The first is the registration of all groups involved with immigrants in Greece and the work they do; the second is an evaluation of immigrants’ contribution to the country’s economy. The results of the surveys in all European states will be presented in about 18 months’ time at a conference in Greece, after being examined and processed by a 10-member committee, one of whose members is IMEPO President Alexandros Zavos, who is also representing IMEPO in a similar process under way in the USA, where a working group has been set up to make proposals for immigration policy. The group comprises senators, members of Congress, government officials and representatives of the private sector, while those representing Europe, in addition to Zavos, are the European Commission’s director of immigration and asylum and Norway’s director of immigration.

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