Consideration given to the more vulnerable

The new immigration law has restricted bureaucracy to a great extent, maintains Immigration Policy Institute (IMEPO) President Alexandros Zavos and has emphasized the humanitarian aspect of the law: «Trafficking victims under the previous system received the same treatment as other migrants. Women who were arrested were deported and the human traffickers would wait for them on the other side of the border to force them back into prostitution,» he said. «Now they are regarded as victims; they are given a residence permit and means to enable them to submit an application,» Zavos added. Special attention has also been paid to children who are the victims of abuse. Another positive development is that pregnant women cannot be deported until six months after giving birth. With the introduction of a category for long-term residents, migrants in steady jobs who have had a residence permit for the last 5 years are given considerable rights and increased protection – which is also extended to their families. The groundwork has been laid in the law to ensure parity treatment with Greeks as regards work (an accreditation mechanism for qualifications), educational opportunities, work security, access to procedures for accommodation and so on. Nevertheless, however good the law may be on paper, it cannot achieve results without the support of the people who implement it. To better inform migrants the IMEPO president recommends that information booths be set up at public services or in the Citizens’ Service Bureau (KEP), staff be given special training and immigrants recruited to act as cross-cultural intermediaries. Zavos highlighted the need for training seminars to be organized by the National Center for State Administration for employees working in all services dealing with migrants.