Hungarian government wants to harden its immigration policy with plan to detain all asylum-seekers

ECRE Weekly Bulletin
17 February, 2017

“The Hungarian government submitted a new bill to the parliament on February 14 to be voted on during the spring session. If passed, it will increase the use of collective push-backs and introduce automatic detention of asylum seekers.


Further, under the bill the asylum procedure will take place in designated transit zones, which asylum seekers are prohibited to leave. All asylum seekers staying at open reception facilities at the time the bill enters into force will be transferred to these zones. This is an extension of the use systematic detention, an established practice as demonstrated by the latest AIDA report on Hungary.”

As is manifest below, Europe – both the EU institutions and EU member States – is sliding rapidly towards a much more robust undocumented migration deterrence and repression policy, including against asylum seekers, increasing detention capacity and implementing systematic detention policies (HU and IT), developing quick return mechanisms (HU and IT), reducing access to justice for migrants (IT) and reinstating border controls at internal EU borders (FR), as well as returning to the argument that helping undocumented migrants in distress (here – appallingly – children) creates a “pull factor” (UK), an argument that we had thought delegitimised after the Mare Nostrum summer.

To read the full article in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin, please click on the following link.

  New York police officers on Saturday watched people protest against the immigration policies of President Trump. Photo Credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images on the NY Times website

Sanctuary Cities in Name Only

Article in The New York Times
15 February, 2017

“President Trump’s plan to deport millions of people appears to be underway. Last week, federal immigration officials arrested more than 600 people at their homes and workplaces in at least 11 states, sending terror through immigrant communities.

The abruptness of the raids provoked criticism from local officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, who vowed to “stand with” immigrant communities. But mass deportation under President Trump will also happen through a more routine policy that is in the mayor’s control: endless, unnecessary arrests for low-level offenses, which end up feeding immigrants into the federal government’s deportation machine.

It’s not enough for cities like New York to declare themselves “sanctuaries,” which simply means that the local police won’t detain noncitizens on the federal government’s behalf. If cities really want to protect immigrants, they must also end the quota-driven style of policing that makes immigrants the victims of unnecessary arrests and disproportionate punishment.”

“Firewalls” are key to creating trust that denouncing exploitation and violence will not result in deportation. Ending the practical impunity of exploiters of migrant labour should be a central objective of law enforcement, a more important one than rounding up hard-working migrants in view of their deportation.

To read the full article on the New York Times’ website, please click here.

  A poster in Zurich opposing the citizenship measure was graffitied over to read “Unchecked incitement? No — Yes to an easier path to citizenship,” instead of the original “Unchecked naturalization? No to an easier path to citizenship.” Photo Credit Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters on the NY Times website

Switzerland Votes to Ease Citizenship for Third-Generation Immigrants

Article in The New York Times
12 February, 2017

“The posters seen in several cities and provinces featured two very similar young women: both born in Switzerland, educated in Swiss schools, now in their 20s and working full time in Swiss jobs. They even share the given name Vanessa.

The point, though, was the crucial way they differ. One Vanessa is a Swiss citizen, while the other is not, and is locked in a lengthy and expensive process to obtain citizenship even though her family put down roots in Switzerland two generations ago.

The posters backed a government-sponsored measure that would ease the path to citizenship for third-generation immigrants like the second Vanessa. And on Sunday, the measure was approved in a nationwide referendum.

The outcome went against the recent tide of right-wing populism and anti-immigrant sentiment in much of Western Europe. Just over 60 percent of votes were in favor, including majorities in 17 of the country’s 23 electoral cantons — a minimum of 12 are required to pass — despite a right-wing campaign that sought to stoke fears of Muslims infiltrating the country.”

Some sun ray among depressing other news. It still is baffling that over 40% of Swiss citizens voted against an easier naturalisation process for residents whose families have been in Switzerland for three generations. Some Swiss citizens are certainly less socially integrated than most of those “migrants”.

To read the full article, please click here. 

Malta Summit: “Is Libya the right disembarking point for migrants?”

Press release by UN OHCHR
3 February, 2017

Another press release about European migration policies.

“GENEVA (3 February) – As European Union Heads of State or Government gather in Malta to discuss new measures targeting migration movements, including increased cooperation with Libya, a group of United Nations human rights experts* warn the EU against supporting a system in which migrants are pushed back to places where they may be at risk of torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Proposals on the table include capacity-building and training of the Libyan coast guards in search and rescue operations, enhanced border control and prevention of new migration routes through enhanced cooperation with North African States.

“The EU expresses its concern about the loss of life at sea, and we commend any action directed at saving lives. However, we are highly concerned that by agreeing to a deal with Libya, whereby migrants trying to flee human rights violations are being pushed back to those same conditions, the principle of non-refoulement will be violated.

Any engagement with third countries needs to be in line with international human rights standards. The EU member states cannot balk from their responsibility and are accountable for any human rights violation under such an agreement.

By going ahead with this idea, the EU has all but declared Libya a “safe third country”. Limiting departures from the Libyan coast simply means accepting and legitimizing the human suffering prevailing in Libya and pushing people back to conditions where migrants suffer arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, unlawful killings, trafficking and enforced disappearance. Migrants in Libya are exploited as free labor and vulnerable to other forms of contemporary slavery; migrant women are at risk of rape and other sexual violence.
The Libyan detention centers are severely overcrowded, without access to toilets or washing facilities, ventilation, food or clean water and they have no access to a legal process, lawyers or judicial authorities.

It is vital that the EU expands the resources committed to providing assistance to migrants in distress at sea.

These operations must allow migrants to disembark immediately at the nearest port where their lives and freedoms would not be threatened, providing them with information, offering care and support, processing their asylum claims equitably. From what we know on the conditions in Libya, this country cannot be a port of disembarkation.”

To see the full press release, please click on the following link.

Cover Story New Yorker

3 February, 2017

Please see the cover image (and story) of the New Yorker.

“Under more ordinary circumstances, the cover of the issue for February 13 and 20, 2017—our Anniversary Issue, marking ninety-two years—would feature some version of Rea Irvin’s classic image of the monocled dandy Eustace Tilley. This year, as a response to the opening weeks of the Trump Administration, particularly the executive order on immigration, we feature John W. Tomac’s dark, unwelcoming image, “Liberty’s Flameout.” “It used to be that the Statue of Liberty, and her shining torch, was the vision that welcomed new immigrants. And, at the same time, it was the symbol of American values,” Tomac says. “Now it seems that we are turning off the light.”