Children who have legal status, parents who don’t — or sometimes vice versa

Often it is the administrative staff that shoulder responsibility for the many problems that are hard to resolve. The loss of numerous applications while being transferred from the many regional authorities in the provinces is one example, as it prevents many migrants from being able to acquire the much sought-after residence permit. In the Athens Municipality in particular, files containing the documents of migrants are not given a reference number and are not made the responsibility of an employee. This is because the large majority of employees are on fixed-term contracts and have no right to sign for or be responsible for the files. In addition, most of the employees are new and have no prior knowledge of the issue. Administrative failures create problems that lead to an impasse for many categories of migrants. First example: According to a 2001 directive from the prefecture, the municipalities require that parents apply for legal status for their children in accordance with article 67 of law 2910/2001. However, the article refers to access to work, not to education. The law stipulates that a migrant cannot convert his work permit into a study permit. Thus migrant children are being educated illegally. article 34, paragraph 8 of law 3274/2004 attempted to solve the problem but the circular was not issued until some time had passed. Employees and migrants were not adequately informed and the whole effort failed. Today many children of migrants cannot obtain legal status as this category has not been included in the third legalization process. Second example: The law stipulates that asylum seekers whose application has been rejected are still eligible for a work and residence permit. However, many of the asylum seekers have to wait an average of five years before their applications are approved and they are granted an asylum application card. A particular employee did not know what to do in such a case and sent the applicant to the Aliens’ Bureau, with a note asking for a rejection of asylum application. There the police officer made the migrant sign that he had forfeited his right to having his asylum application examined. The migrant thought he had been given the much-sought asylum application card and left feeling pleased. In fact he was worse off than before. This unfortunately was repeated on numerous occasions until migrants learned from each other that this action was to be avoided.