So we've decided that we can't protect our own borders from illegal immigrants and that the best idea is to outsource the job to our Western partners. But immigration policy is more than policing borders. It's a network of measures that calls for proper public administration.
Greece approves the fewest political asylum applications in the European Union. Foreign Ministry figures for 2008 show that out of initial examinations of 29,573 applications, only 14 were approved. At the end of last year, a second review was pending for previously rejected applications totaling over 30,000.
Most of these people might be economic immigrants in disguise, but why does Silvio Berlusconi's Italy have a higher percentage of approvals than democratically sensitive Greece?
Ineffective policing of borders is just the tip of the iceberg. The problem of illegal immigration can't be solved by more patrol boats paid for by Europeans. The problem lies in the laxity of public administration at every level and the lack of long-term planning. For example, why did it take a 7 percent result in the European Parliament elections for the right-wing LAOS party before a proposal for "hospitality camps" was implemented. These will be ready in six months at the earliest. Meanwhile, what is to happen to illegal immigrants picked up in raids? Are we simply wasting valuable police resources in order to have impressive, but short-term results?
The illegal immigration problem is a complex and difficult one that calls for long-term plans that do not cancel each other out. It will never be completely resolved even if we get, as some imagine, a policy like Israel's. But the effects can be reduced with better public administration at every level, from labor inspections to the procedures for approving political asylum applications. Because even if we have the best policy possible, who is going to implement it?
«Kathimerini» English Edition, 19.6.2009