Immigration more important than the Economy?
Judging by the content of the debate in Greece over the past few days, one might think that the most pressing issue facing the country ahead of the upcoming general elections is illegal immigration rather than the economy. The two coalition partners, New Democracy and PASOK, have attempted to outdo each other by trying to appear determined to tackle a matter that is gaining relevance as a result of the crisis.
With elections probably due to take place on May 6, Greece’s two main parties have stepped up the rhetoric. New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras wants to repeal the citizenship law passed in 2010, which allows second-generation immigrants to apply for Greek citizenship. “Our cities have been taken over by illegal immigrants, we have to reclaim them,” Samaras told members of his party on Thursday as the police conducted sweep operations to round up illegal immigrants in downtown Athens.
PASOK, meanwhile, via its Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, is attempting to go one better by announcing the creation of 30 reception centers around the country by next year to house up to 30,000 people awaiting asylum approval or deportation. This, Chrysochoidis says, will ease the pressure on cities like Athens, Thessaloniki and Patra.
In a sense, both parties are right. Greece does have an immigration problem. In 2011 it was home to an estimated 1.1 million migrants, who make up roughly 10 percent of the country’s population. About 400,000 are thought to be undocumented, which is a very high number for a country as small as Greece. Along with Italy, Greece is the main point of entry in the EU for undocumented migrants.IF THE EUROPEAN NATIONS GOT RID OF THEIR NON-EUROPEAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND CLAMPED DOWN HARD ON LEGAL IMMIGRATION - AND DEMANDED ASSIMILATION - IT WOULD LIFT WAGES, REDUCE WELFARE OUTLAYS AND CREATE MORE CULTURAL & SOCIAL SOLIDARITY.
THAT'S A WIN-WIN-WIN.