OPINION

Simplistic stance on immigration

When asked about illegal immigration earlier this week, the prime minister responded with a mixture of ideological fixations and cheap propaganda. He said that the previous PASOK administration under Costas Simitis made a good start. But the citizens know only too well whether the mass legalizations approved by the governments of Simitis and Costas Karamanlis brought results. The premier also accused New Democracy of failing to impose the Greek-Turkish agreement for refoulment. The fact is that Ankara has only taken back a handful of migrants who reached Greece from Turkish shores and has abetted the flow of illegals westward. Its stance will change only if Brussels steps in. The prime minister stated that the country’s borders are being guarded, but the flow of illegal immigration has not been stemmed and it is near impossible to do so. Even when the coast guard does spot a boat carrying illegal migrants it usually has a rescue operation on its hands and has to bring the passengers to shore. Papandreou went on to say that the current law on citizenship is lax and arbitrary. This is completely untrue. Papandreou clearly believes that the law is too strict and this is why he is pushing for a bill that will grant citizenship to immigrants under much easier terms than those applied in most EU countries. He appears unconcerned by the fact that this will inevitably boost the number of illegal immigrants coming to Greece. Instead of answering Antonis Samaras’s criticism on this point, Papandreou simply accused the opposition leader of being too conservative. Papandreou said that the citizenship law is a matter of human rights and human rights are non-negotiable. He put all immigrants – legal and illegal – into the same basket and uttered not one word about a country’s right to choose who it makes its citizens. And this was not an oversight; it was a stance. Sure, human rights are non-negotiable, but even a first-year law student knows that it is not the fundamental right of every migrant to be granted citizenship.