NEWS

Migrant woes mounting

The recent government policy of moving illegal immigrants to reception centers in northern Greece before expelling them from the country ran into more trouble yesterday, as 580 migrants being held on Samos went on hunger strike to protest the measure. The migrants’ complaints were prompted by an attempt by authorities to remove 26 illegal immigrants from the island on Tuesday so that they could be transferred to another center in northern Greece. Authorities have recently attempted to crack down on illegal immigration by stepping up the number of expulsions, while also taking into custody migrants squatting or renting accommodation in run-down buildings in Athens. The practice of transferring migrants to northern Greece has, in recent weeks, met with the opposition of human rights campaigners who have attempted to prevent the operations from taking place. Yesterday’s protest came as sources revealed to Kathimerini that one in three applications made this year to remain here by the families of migrants living legally in Greece will be rejected. Sources said that some 9,000 applications had been made but that in some 3,000 cases, the requests would be turned down because the migrant who is the main breadwinner in the family was not earning enough money. According to Greek law, for a migrant’s family to be allowed to remain in Greece, the head of the family must declare an income that is 20 percent more than that of an unskilled laborer, which amounts to 10,200 euros per year before taxes. Campaigners for migrants’ rights have expressed concern that since, given the current economic conditions, many immigrants’ incomes do not reach this level, their wives and children will be deemed to be living here illegally. The Interior Ministry said that migrants can appeal any decision to deport their families and instead of a residence permit will be issued with a document confirming their legal status («veveosi») that will then be renewed every six months until their case is heard.