Illegal immigrants get another shot at legal status

Last Monday, work began in earnest to give legal status to immigrants working illegally in Greece. This work involves the third permit-granting operation so far, and also the most systematic. From this week until the end of the year, immigrants may apply to municipal bureaus for residence permits. Meanwhile, those whose residence permits have expired and who had until August 23 (when the new law was passed) to renew them now have until October 31 to apply for a renewal. Nevertheless, well-founded concerns have been raised by immigrant groups that once again tens of thousands of illegal immigrants will be left out. The procedures for legalization provided by the latest law exclude many categories of people if they are unable to prove they have been in Greece for at least a year as of December 2004, as the law requires. The immigrant associations believe the new provisions will at best benefit just 30 percent of illegal immigrants. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos admitted as much when he recently indicated that the law might be amended, if it were shown that it helped only a minority. «If need be,» he said, «there will be changes. If we see that we have made a mistake, we will correct it.»