NEWS

Bill to boost migrant rights

New reforms being proposed by the Interior Ministry promise to grant the children of immigrants who were born and educated in Greece the same rights as Greek citizens and save them countless bureaucratic hassles and discrimination. The reforms would apply to all second-generation immigrants whose parents are legally resident in Greece once they reach the age of 18. These would include a significant proportion of some 120,000 second-generation migrant schoolchildren. In the first instance, they would get long-term resident status – a five-year permit that would be twice renewed automatically. They would then get citizenship. During this process they will be able to travel freely within the European Union for studies or work without any bureaucratic restrictions. The initiative has been welcomed by migrant support groups. «This is the first serious dialogue about the status of child migrants born or raised in Greece,» said Vassilis Chronopoulos who runs the website www.diavatirio.net for migrants living in this country. Chronopoulos highlighted the paradox of second-generation immigrants having to look for work immediately after graduating from college to avoid being declared illegal. «It is absurd for these young people to face deportation from a state that has invested in their education for so many years,» Chronopoulos said. One issue that remains unclear is whether these second-generation immigrants will be obliged to pay a 900-euro fee to acquire long-term residence status (an obligation that the country’s highest court has declared illegal and abusive). Some youngsters expressed skepticism about the drive if it is to be dependent on this condition. Others seemed to doubt that it would pass through Parliament. But all those interviewed by Kathimerini said their current situation must change. «We live in constant anxiety about renewing permits, the fear that the law might change again and that we’ll be illegal,» said 27-year-old Manolis Atholanio, born in Greece to Nigerian parents.