EU states open up to Bulgarian, Romanian workers

The New Year has brought with it the lifting of restrictions for Bulgarian and Romanian workers in Greece, Spain and Denmark, but a number of EU states will be keeping barriers to their labour markets for three more years.

Greece on Wednesday (31 December) became the latest “old” EU member to lift restrictions for Bulgarian and Romanian workers, following Spain and Denmark which set the example earlier in December. Continue reading


Active citizenship: “socio-political engineering”

In the Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill, the Government wants migrants to commit to ‘active citizenship opportunities’, but that amounts to coopting the voluntary sector for a piece of socio-political engineering, says Stephen Cook, in an editorial for 3rd Sector magazine.

There is a fundamental objection: Volunteering should, as far as possible, be its own reward, and this proposal makes it a means to an end. Those willing and able to take part will in many cases do so simply for personal advancement, and those unable or unwilling to participate will be unfairly disadvantaged. The voluntary sector would do well to start marshalling its forces to have this measure dropped from the bill.

read the full article… (external link)

Roma in Govanhill: film, 17 Oct, Glagow

Part of the Document 6 Film Festival

Friday 17th October, 7:30pm

CCA, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

Roma of Govanhill
Janos Kovacs
Janos Joka Daroczi

Hungary | 2008 | 20 mins

Since the industrial revolution, Glasgow, like Liverpool or London, is a city whose identity has largely been forged by successive waves of immigration, from the Gaels of the 19th Century fleeing the Clearances to the Polish visitors of the present day.

The neighbourhood of Govanhill on the South Side of Glasgow has historically played host to many new cultures arriving in the city, from the Irish to the Jewish communities, and later to Asian families from India and Pakistan. Post-EU Accession, the most recent of these have been Slovakian citizens of the Romani people.

Made by Roma Magazine for Magyar TV in Hungary, this film sets out to show life in Govanhill today as experienced by the Roma and others in this mixed neighbourhood.

link: Document 6 Film Festival

Population: size isn’t everything

Debate about the UK’s growing population must move beyond statistics: we must maximise the benefits of migration, writes Jill Rutter of IPPR.

Once again, the release of Office for National Statistics (ONS) and European population projections has caused a flurry of anti-migration commentary in sectors of the media less comfortable with ethnic diversity. These population statistics predict that the population of the UK and France will rise, while the population of Germany and many eastern European countries will shrink.

…a fresh approach is needed when considering the implications of projected population growth in the UK. Rather than contesting statistics we need to consider the future impacts of migration on economic and social development, both for the UK and globally.

read the full article…

Tear down the walls

Phillipe Legrain writes
Europe’s war against immigration is immoral and unwinnable. It’s time for a radical rethink. Europe prides itself on being a continent of human rights, freedom and international solidarity. Yet it is fighting an increasingly dirty war against immigration, with casualties mounting every day. The biggest victims are the poor and the vulnerable, who are demonised as “illegal” or “bogus”. But EU governments are also doing huge harm to the societies they purportedly want to protect.

read the full article…

media reports July 2008

30 July 08
Sham Government ruled illegal on weddings
The UK government has been found to be acting illegally again, with it’s laws targetting marriages of non-British residents found to be an “unjust and arbritary” breach of human rights.

29 July 08
Marriage visa plan needs a re-think
The Home Office’s announcement that it is to raise the age for marriage visas from 18 to 21 will unfairly affect Britain’s strictly-orthodox Jewish community. The move is described as part of a crackdown on forced marriages in the UK, but it will also impact disproportionately on London’s strictly orthodox Jewish community where consenting international marriages between young people are common.

27 July 08
Ireland twice as attractive to migrants than Scotland
While Scottish politicians and business leaders have made much of the 62,000 net immigrations from Poland and other Eastern European accession countries since they joined the EU in 2004, Ireland has seen 125,000 over the same period, according to its official figures. And despite the fact that some are now returning home, economists see signs that more are deciding to stay permanently in Ireland to take advantage of better opportunities in the jobs market. There are also perceptions that the Irish government does more to make them welcome than its Scottish counterpart, which last week prompted cabinet finance secretary John Swinney to acknowledge that more needed to be done to retain immigrant workers.

25 July 08
This crackdown on forced marriage is not all it seems
Is the government raising the age for marriage visas out of concern for women, or to impose stricter immigration controls? The age limit for those marrying overseas spouses is to be raised from 18 to 21 in its “crackdown” on forced marriage. Yet another differential has been introduced in its treatment of minorities. Paradoxically, it is the relaxation of immigration controls which will reduce the likelihood of forced marriage, since marriage will not be seen as a route to gaining entry to the UK. However, any argument advocating liberalisation of immigration laws, no matter how reasonable, is like waving a red flag in front of this bullish, reactionary government.

Let’s get figures straight before judging migration
The latest figures show that Scotland’s population decline appears to have halted, and is now at its highest for a quarter of a century, thanks to a steadily improving birth/death balance and a healthy net migration into Scotland from the rest of these islands and beyond. Those of us who welcome the energy and diversity migrants bring to our society want to ensure that the net flow produces, year on year, a boost to Scotland’s demographic profile. We can’t do anything about that, however, unless we have some reliable numbers with which to work. Let’s try to fix the evidence base so we have some reliable information on where we stand.

Baby boom and in-migration boost Scotland’s population
Figures published yesterday by the General Register Office for Scotland show the population rose by 27,300 to 5,144,200 between mid-2006 and mid-2007

23 July 08
Life in the Shadows
They came to the UK to seek their fortune, but for growing numbers of migrants it’s going painfully wrong. A confusing and inflexible benefits system and exploitation by cash-in-hand bosses have condemned them to the squalor of a candle-lit, derelict garage – and a serious illness that could kill them and become a serious public health threat.

21 July 08
Immigration: ‘Britishness’ will not help integration says report
Tackling deprivation and boosting social interaction would do more to reduce hostility to immigrants than trying to create a sense of Britishness, acording to the Immigration and Social Cohesion in the UK, report. “The findings of this research go against the grain of the idea that we need a fixed notion of Britishness and British values. Rather, ‘cohesion’ is about negotiating the right balance between difference and unity”

20 July 08
Migrants defuse timebomb for Scots population
Scotland’s population has now risen to its highest level for a quarter of a century, defying predictions that it would plunge below five million. The biggest factor has been inward migration from other parts of the UK and other, mainly eastern European, countries. (caution: beware frequently offensive – and legally unpublishable in print – rants published online by the Scotsman as “reader comments”)

16 July 08
The Kitchen Classes
Minority-run caterers are being unfairly targeted in a severe crackdown on undocumented workers. The crackdown and its discriminatory naming and shaming of ethnic minority businesses will only increase workers’ illegality and exploitation. The honest and real solution is to give them the status and respect that they deserve. By Hsiao-Hung Pai, author of Chinese Whispers: The True Story Behind Britain’s Hidden Army of Labour

Barriers to integration
Many migrants work long hours and live in poor housing. Small wonder that some are accused of failing to integrate. You don’t have to read much of today’s parliamentary report on community and cohesion to realise that the headline finding – that “community cohesion can be adversely affected in areas experiencing rapid inward migration” – is far less straightforward than it first appears.

Undocumented: a life of poverty, exploitation and danger
An undercover investigation by the BBC looks at the hidden world of undocumented Punjabi migrants in London. The BBC investigation (with sensationalist headlines “Migrant criminal network exposed“) reports that these mostly young, Punjabi men are subsisting through poorly paid, dangerous and demeaning work, and are forced to rely on “forgers, criminals and ruthless employers” to survive. They call themselves “fauji” a Punjabi term for army foot soldiers.

14 July 08
Draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill launched
The “tough new approach” will apparently represent a “sweeping overhaul of all immigration laws dating back to 1971” (all but two of which have been passed by this government).

13 July 08
Polish consul calls for better wages to stem Scottish exodus
Poland’s Consul General has warned Scotland’s honeymoon with hard-working Polish workers is over unless they can be offered wages comparable to those in their homeland. Last week, Polish leaders in the Highlands, which has seen the third-largest influx of migrant workers in Scotland, accused the Scottish government of failing to do enough to stop the exodus of some of the 86,000 Polish migrants to the country since 2004.

Polish workers leaving Scotland
Young Poles have come to Scotland in their thousands with the promise of a better life. Now, after only a few years, many are moving on. So where does that leave us?

Labour shortages means more gangmasters: legal advice for farmers.
For some time, large numbers of migrant workers have been employed in agriculture in the UK, but as many abandon the sector in favour of more lucrative prospects, the worst seasonal labour shortage in years is leading to increased opportunities for gangmasters. Solicitor Roslyn James considers how farmers can ensure they are protected when it comes to hiring labour this season.

Grim toll of African refugees mounts on Spanish beaches
Three new tragedies have raised fears that this summer could see a record number of would-be migrants killed in desperate bids to reach Europe. Also see: Spain vows to lead global poverty fight after latest migrant tragedy

11 July 08
Skilled migrants can return to UK
In a story apparently not picked by any of the UK papers, the Times of India reports on the announcement by UK Borders Agency of new arrangements for Highly Skilled Migrants to return to work after the UK Government was found to have acted illegally in forcing them to leave the country.For more details, also see the press release from HMSP Forum, the group that won the Judicial Review

10 July 08
This persecution of Gypsies is now the shame of Europe
Italy’s campaign against the Roma has ominous echoes of its fascist past, and the silence of our leaders is deafening.

African rights groups slam EU migration control plans
New EU proposals drew criticism in Africa where the plans were attacked for criminalising immigrants and building a wall around Europe. African rights watchdog Raddho slammed “the EU policies of criminalisation and locking up of migrants and asylum seekers” and spoke of its “intense worry” at the new guidelines announced by France’s EU presidency.

09 July 08
Integration of immigrants more urgent than ever
In an economic downturn, combating racism must not be put on the back burner. An article in the Irish Times by Lucy Gaffney, chair of National Action Plan Against Racism

08 July 08
Highland workforce fears as migrants leave
The Scottish Government has been urged to do more to avert a labour crisis in the Highlands as increasing numbers of migrant workers return home. More than 2,000 people from Eastern European countries registered for National Insurance in the Highlands last year.Unofficial figures this year show that a quarter of them have left.Also reported on the BBC, in The Scotsman and The Times

France unveils pact on EU-wide immigration
EU interior ministers tentatively endorsed President Nicolas Sarkozy’s drive to harmonise immigration policy across the EU. The French proposals focus on five areas – regulating legal immigration, returning undocumented migrants, strengthening EU borders, “partnership” with the countries of origin of the migrants, and asylum policy. The French proposal builds on new EU laws, such as those allowing detention of undocumented migrants for 18 months and, once deported, barred from re-entering the EU for five years, described as “barbarous”, “xenophobic” and “racist” by Latin American leaders.

Ukraine: border guards of Fortress Europe
This month, EU lawmakers ruled that undocumented migrants could be detained for up to 18 months and face a re-entry ban of up to five years, measures that human rights groups said would lead to a “Fortress Europe” mentality. The European Commission is outsourcing the EU’s migrant prisons. Ukraine, not renowned for it’s humane treatment of refugees and migrants, is paid over 30 million euros for it’s role of border guard.

06 July 08
‘No blacks, no dogs, no Gypsies’
Gypsies and Travellers in the UK are uniting to form a nationwide coalition to fight what they describe as rapidly escalating levels of racism and discrimination. The leaders of the nation’s largest Gypsy and Traveller organisations will hold an unprecedented gathering later this month with the aim of bringing together the country’s 300,000 Roma, Irish, Welsh and English Gypsies and Travellers in a national federation.

UK is sending 11,000 Mugabe refugees back
Zimbabweans who fled regime are being sent Home Office letters telling them to return. ‘These letters are shameful,’ said Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council. ‘It is appalling that the government is continuing to order Zimbabweans to go back to Zimbabwe, especially under the current circumstances, and basically leaving them to starve if they don’t.’

03 July 08
18,000 women and children trafficked into UK sex tradeUp to 18,000 females, including girls as young as 14, are working in brothels across Britain after being smuggled into the country to meet the booming demand for prostitutes.

02 July 08
Latin American leaders condemn ‘racist’ EU law
Latin American leaders have sharply criticised as “barbarous”, “xenophobic” and “racist” new European Union legislation on clandestine immigration that allows extended detention of undocumented workers. “We need a strong stance…in defense of the dignity of our people,” Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez told his fellow leaders, according to the Associated Press. “Civilized Europe – I say that ironically – has legalised barbarism.”

Trafficking crackdown frees 170 victims
Nearly 170 victims have been freed from the clutches of people traffickers in the largest-ever crackdown of its kind. A total of 167 people – mostly women and girls – were uncovered in six months and 528 suspected traffickers were arrested.

Migrant domestic workers at risk
Most migrant domestic workers brought to the UK by their employers face abuse and exploitation, a report claims. Oxfam and campaign group Kalayaan found 10% of 312 people surveyed had reported sexual abuse, 26% physical abuse and 72% psychological abuse from bosses.

01 July 08
South American leaders’ anger at new EU migrant laws
Leaders attending a summit of South American trade bloc Mercosur are expected to strongly criticise new EU immigration laws. A directive passed by the EU last month could see “illegal” immigrants detained for up to 18 months and if expelled they face a five-year ban on re-entry. The Ecuadorean President has called the EU measures “shameful”, while Bolivian leader Evo Morales said they did nothing to combat discrimination and racism, and Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana said the region did not accept the concept of migration as a crime. Also see: Global outcry against EU immigration directive

More news>>>

News archives:
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008

News round-up 28 July

In news reports this week:

  • The baby boom and in-migration boosting Scotland’s population – but can we rely on the figures?
  • Ireland is apparently twice as attractive to migrants than Scotland.
  • UK government raises the age for marriage visas to 21 – out of concern for women, or to appear tough(er) on migrants?
  • A new report finds that tackling deprivation and boosting social interaction would do more to reduce hostility to immigrants than trying to create a sense of Britishness.
  • Homelessness, exploitation, destitution and the diseases of absolute poverty: the reality of life for some of the UK’s “flexible” migrant workforce.