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Immigrant returns pit MEPs against determined governments

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Immigrant returns pit MEPs against determined governments


Rights groups are calling an emerging EU law against illegal migrants “blunt and inappropriate”. The legislation especially targets those who refuse to go back to their country of origin voluntarily. Yet there still may be stiff resistance to the “Return Directive” in the European Parliament. The European Union interior ministers have put their seal of approval on extending the time immigrants under expulsion orders can be kept under lock and key. But this needs the parliament’s endorsement. It and the ministers’ Council have equal weight in the matter. If a majority of MEPs support the law, illegal migrants could be detained for six to 18 months and banned from the EU for five years. The assembly is divided, and lawmakers say the vote in plenary the week after next will be tight. The 18-month limit is higher than the maximum detention in two-thirds of the 27 EU states. Although they can keep a lower limit if they want, rights groups say the law would encourage
authorities to lock more people up. The European Commission estimates there are some eight million illegal migrants in the bloc. Belgium’s migration minister wrote last week that: ‘Advocates for asylum seekers have become a formidable lobby.’ On the other hand, diplomats said EU states have welcomed a French plan to make entry harder and register legal arrivals, to prevent over-staying.

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