Greece cracking down hard on illegal immigrants
Large-scale deportation drive ongoing as some fear influx of Syrian refugees
The European nation of Greece has always been seen as a stopping point
for those fleeing turmoil in Asia and Africa, who hope for a better life
in the west. Now, the financially strapped nation is cracking down hard
on illegal immigrants. Greece currently has very little room for extra
mouths to feed.
The Greek ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn, an extreme right-wing organization has seen its membership roll grow due to anti-immigrant anger among the public.
With too few jobs to go around and new austerity measure cutting life here to the quick, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said Greece could not afford an "invasion of immigrants." Dendias blamed mass migration for bringing the country "to the brink of collapse.
"The country is being lost, what is happening now is [Greece's] greatest invasion ever," he said. "Whoever is arrested will be held and then deported."
Asian and African refugees have been streaming into Greece at a steady clip. There are renewed fears that there could soon be an influx of migrants fleeing the Syrian civil war.
The Greek ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn, an extreme right-wing organization has seen its memberships roll grows due to anti-immigrant anger among the public.
Up to 80 percent of all migrants heading into the EU come via Greece. Some 100,000 illegal immigrants are estimated to slip into the country every year and up to a million are believed to live in Greece, which has a total population of about 11million.
These roiling social conditions have been coupled with a spike in crime and have contributed to the rise of the Greek far-Right political party.
Golden Dawn gained nearly 7 percent of the vote in recent parliamentary elections and has won support from young Greeks who blame migrants for their lack of job opportunities.
This sentiment is being felt in this summer's Olympics. Before the games started, Greek triple jumper and Golden Dawn supporter Voula Papachristou was banned from the Games for posting a racist tweet about migrants.
The Greek office of the U.N. High Commission for refugees said that while Greece has the right to carry out checks on immigrants, it must ensure that vulnerable groups do not suffer.
"It is very difficult for asylum seekers to apply for protected status, and we are concerned that among those arrested there may be people who want protection but were unable to submit their requests because access to the relevant authorities is practically impossible," Spokesman Petros Mastakas says.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Greece, illegal immigants, crackdown, Golden Dawn
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