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Posts Tagged ‘Immigration and Asylum’

Polygamy in the High Court

February 8, 2010 1 comment

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the High Court will soon rule on the validity of an Irish citizen’s marriage under s. 29 of the Family Law Act, 1995. The man is Lebanese. He married two women in Lebanon, where polygamous marriage is permitted. He entered Ireland with his second wife and claimed asylum. His first wife arrived in Ireland much later.  The man has children with both and  apparently lives with both in Ireland.  Seven years ago the Department of Justice had refused to grant a visa to the man’s first wife. However, after the man challenged the refusal in the High Court, the Department agreed to quash its initial refusal. As part of this settlement, the man is required to seek a s. 29 ruling. The Times reports that ‘[t]he state and the wives are all represented in the case. The residency rights of both spouses will depend on the decision. A number of similar cases are awaiting the outcome.’ The case looks to be (or is very similar to) that of Hussein Ali Hamoud. The Irish Independent reported on his case in 2003 here.  There is been remarkably little media discussion of the case today. Marian Finucane discussed the issue, to some extent, on RTE Radio 1 yesterday. The podcast is here (from minute 21). The Examiner also published a short opinion piece.

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Immigration and ‘Marriages of Convenience’

January 30, 2010 Leave a comment

On Monday, the Irish Times reported on a new operation which has been undertaken by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) to detect and prevent what they believe to be marriages of convenience for the purpose of securing EU residency rights. A Pakistani man, Muhammad Shafi, was recently convicted of offences related to the possession of ‘false instruments’. Gardai also intervened to halt his marriage to a Lithuanian woman. The Irish Times reports that marriages designed to circumvent certain legal obstacles to residency in Ireland are an important informal feature of  our immigration regime, with the Minister  for Justice estimating that  “30 per cent of all our applications for recognition under the EU directive on freedom of movement and residency involve persons who were illegally present in Ireland or on a temporary or limited permission when making their applications”. The Times explains:

These marriages are typically arranged by failed asylum seekers or former students from Asia who no longer have permission from immigration authorities to stay in Ireland.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern told his EU counterparts at a meeting in Spain at the weekend that there was evidence of growing abuse of immigration laws with a growing number of non-EU nationals marrying women from the Baltic states.

Some 110 of the 384 residency applications made by Pakistanis in the Republic in 2009 were based on marriages to Latvians.

A further 50 applications were based on marriage to Polish nationals while 47 applications were based on Pakistanis marrying Estonians.

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Conference at UCC: Migration and Networks of Care

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Migration and Networks of Care:

Migrant domestic/care workers in European contexts

14th December 2009, University College Cork

Confirmed speakers:

  • Hilkka Becker, Senior Solicitor, Immigrant Council of Ireland
  • Aoife Smith, Domestic Workers Action Group Coordinator, Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland
  • Fiona Williams, Migration and Networks of Care Project, Professor, Centre for International  Research on Care, Labour and Equalities (CIRCLE), University of Leeds

This panel discussion event will address some of the challenges concerning the employment of migrants in the domestic sphere and related issues pertaining to migration in the Irish and EU contexts. Questions around the legal, welfare, gender and equality issues associated with the phenomenon of (usually female) migrants filling gaps in the relatively unregulated sector of domestic/care work in private households will be addressed in the Irish and comparative European contexts.

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Suffer Little (separated) Children

November 20, 2009 1 comment

The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) released a report yesterday on Separated Children Living in Ireland. The report defines separated children as being under 18,  being outside their country of origin, and separated from both parents or legal guardian(s). The Child Care Act 1991 and the Refugee Act 1996 place responsibility on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to cater for the needs of separated children.

The OCO has stated that separated children are not treated equally to Irish children, Read more…

Fine Gael promises to ‘stamp out’ Ireland’s sex and slave trade

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Fine Gael Immigration & Integration Spokesman, Denis Naughten TD will tonight bring forward a Private Members’ Motion which aims to address the issue of trafficking of women and girls through and to the state in the service of the sex industry. The full text of the press release is here. You can find more information on Fine Gael’s immigration policy here. It includes a policy statement on human trafficking. The Immigrant Council of Ireland has a wonderful collection of resources on the Irish approach to human trafficking here, the IHRC provides information here, and you can find details of the government’s anti-trafficking policy here and here. The image at left is the logo of ‘Blue Blindfold‘; a European G6 Human Trafficking Initiative, of which Ireland is a member. Fine Gael promises that its scheme will eliminate sex trafficking by:

• Moving the focus on human trafficking from Garda National Immigration Bureau to the Garda Organised Crime Unit;
• Ending the policy of placing victims of human trafficking in asylum centres and introducing independent accommodation, support and protection services. NGOs believe that in some instances traffickers are targeting asylum seekers hostels and identifying women and young girls who they attempt to lure into a life of prostitution;
• Extending the ‘period of recovery and reflection’ as defined in the Immigration, Residency and Protection Bill 2008 now before Dáil Éireann;
• Extending the remit of the Department of Justice’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit to include migrant women in prostitution;
• Establishing a High Level Group to examine our prostitution laws with a view to preventing the proliferation of sex trafficking.

The press release goes on to say that ‘our law currently provides for a defence in court to prove that they did not know that the person was trafficked. However, a new law for the UK will bring a provision of direct liability into force meaning that ignorance to the fact an individual was sex trafficked will not be defensible in court.’ This seems to refer to provisions of the Policing and Crime Act, 2009 which criminalise the purchase of sex. The Guardian has a good collection of UK resources on human trafficking here. The Dignity Project (a joint initiative of the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Dublin Employment Pact) has also urged the introduction of legislation which would criminalise men who buy sex.

The press release further says that ‘[t]he reality is that unless we adopt a decisive and practical approach to protection and support systems, victims will not come forward to Garda authorities. This is fundamental to securing convictions against those directly involved in this trade, and objective which every political party supports.’ Ruhama, the organisation which works with women who have been exploited for sex, has criticised the government for not ensuring that protection is offered to as many victims of human trafficking as possible.

Ronit Lentin: Anti Racism and Lived Experience

November 16, 2009 1 comment

logoThis post is a ‘donation’ from Ronit Lentin’s blog ‘Free Radical‘. It was first published there on November 1.  You can read more about Ronit on the ‘Guest Contributors’ page.

Since the onset of the recession and the demise of the NCCRI and the cut in the budget of the Equality Authority and the Irish Commission on Human Rights, no one has been speaking much about racism. Most Irish people feel they have other priorities, as they try to make ends meet, get a bank loan, or secure their pensions.

Racism, however, has not disappeared. Migrants, Travellers and members of other ethnic minorities are reporting a marked increase in racist incidents, though, apart from CSO statistics on ‘racially motivated crimes’ (which don’t differentiate the experiences of Travellers, migrants or other racialised groups) there is little hard evidence.

It was therefore encouraging that the Equality Authority and the European Network against Racism organised a discussion forum on ‘Tackling racism and the impact of racist stereotypes’. The event, hosting academics, members of NGOs, some of whom were themselves migrants, Travellers and members of minorities, aimed to identify ‘best practices and tools to address racism including racism arising from stereotypes’.

However yet again, none of the speakers was a member of a migrant or minority group. The keynote speaker was Anastasia Crickley, a long time anti-racist campaigner for Traveller and minority rights, and chairperson of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (formerly the EU Monitoring Centre against Racism, Antisemitism and Xenophobia). She listed four reasons for addressing racism: charity, cohesion, economics and ethics, but she did not speak about the politics of antiracism, or about the role of the state in perpetrating racism. In the Equality Authority’s background document, ‘Living Together: European Citizenship against Racism and Xenophobia’ the best practices listed for Ireland mostly focused on cultural diversity, not antiracism.

Twelve years after the European Year Against Racism, racism is still spoken about in terms of cultural diversity. The EA’s event gave no space to the lived experiences or analysis of racism by the racialised.

The famous anti colonial fighter Frantz Fanon emphasised the lived experience of the black man. Yet  contemporary academic preoccupation with ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ as the sole positions of the struggle of racialised people leads to the conflation of ‘identity politics’ with anti-racism and to the depoliticisation of the anti-racist struggle. However, one of the most important questions asked in relation to antiracism is ‘who speaks for whom, who says what and from where?’ Antiracism can be either generalised – intending to raise awareness among the population and reach a post-racial ‘racelessness’, or colour blindness. Or it can be self-representational, where the lived experience of the racialised informs the struggle. Generalist antiracism is anchored in universal values such as democracy, human rights, equality and tolerance; it reduces the importance of state racism and emphasises individual (or institutional) prejudice.  In contrast, self organising antiracism stresses the role of the state, which focuses on notions of the race idea rooted in the political structure. The lived experience of the protagonists informs the struggle and names the state as the main culprit rather than stress individual prejudice, a way of depoliticising racism and antiracism.

Not privileging the experiences of the racialised means nothing much has changed. Antiracism in Ireland continues to be solidaristic, performed by well meaning white, settled, Christian Irish people, whose ‘best practices’ documents continue in the tradition of soft interculturalism and cultural diversity, while racism goes on.

FLAC: Social Welfare and the Protection Regime

November 16, 2009 5 comments

This is a contribution from Saoirse Brady, FLAC’s Policy & Campaigns Officer.

logoAsylum seekers and other persons seeking protection often appear to be excluded from Irish society.  In fact, the Irish government has taken a number of steps to ensure that persons within the asylum and humanitarian leave to remain process cannot easily integrate into Irish society.

By introducing the policies of direct provision and dispersal, the government has added to this sense of exclusion for individuals seeking asylum or another form of protection.  “Direct provision” is the scheme whereby asylum seekers and people seeking other forms of protection are given accommodation on a full-board basis with all their basic needs apparently provided for directly.  Direct provision residents receive a weekly payment of 19.10 for an adult and 9.60 for a child, unchanged since its introduction in 2001.  The dispersal scheme ensures that individuals who apply for asylum are dispatched to different parts of the country.  Often they are removed from residential areas or big towns and sent to remote or rural locations.  Transport is limited and given their meagre allowance, it is often difficult for them to leave their accommodation centres to socialise or interact with other members of Irish society.  This obviously has implications for the social inclusion of direct provision residents.  In its concluding observations to Ireland’s first national report, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted it “is concerned at the possible implications of the policy of dispersal of and direct provision for asylum-seekers” under article 3, which prohibits discrimination.

Furthermore, the integration of asylum seekers and other direct provision residents does not fall within the remit of the Office of the Minister for Integration, set up in 2007.

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