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EU needs to focus on ending exploitation of irregular migrants

3 February, 2009


Speaking today during a parliamentary debate in Strasbourg on a Directive which seeks to reduce illegal immigration throughout the EU by imposing sanctions against employers of illegal workers Mary Lou McDonald MEP for Dublin has described the proposals as 'misguided' and noted the political and economic imperative should be to end the exploitation of irregular migrants.

Ms McDonald said:

"There is an urgent need to protect workers from exploitation in these times of economic trauma. The case to ensure that terms and conditions of European workers are not systematically driven down by exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers is unanswerable. Responsibility for this rests squarely with member state governments and authorities.

"While member states need to take steps to regulate immigration, I regret very much that the legal base for this proposal is "the fight against illegal immigration". The real fight is against rogue, exploitative employers.

"The political and economic imperative is to stop the exploitation of irregular migrants, to punish rogue employers, not to scapegoat or criminalise workers, migrant or otherwise. The use of criminal sanctions in this proposal should not be the competence of the EU.

Those who argue that the expulsion of migrant workers is the solution to exploitation are misguided.

"The exploitation of workers, as witnessed in GAMA or Irish Ferries, will only be stopped by tough sanctions and vigilance by member state governments. It is time that the rights of workers were put at the centre of public policy. The Irish government must act on these matters." ENDS

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