The website for critical discussion about migration in Central and Eastern Europe.
9. 7. 14
Zdroj: migrationonline.cz

The saving of public finances can go together with the sparing of the rights of foreigners.

The commentary shows that behind frequently used expressions such as "the need to save" or "simplification of administration" the exact opposite meanings are hidden in the current state of migration policy in the Czech Republic. The absurdity and unnecessary complication of migration policy subsequently results in significant losses on the side of both the state and migrants themselves.

Lack of money and the need to save have been the main incantations used in both Czech and European politics since the very outbreak of the economic crisis in 2008. The need to save money has been willingly presented as a necessity for leading our country out of trouble and ensuring future prosperity.

The migration policy and public service performance of the Ministry of the Interior in this area can be a good illustration of the creation of activities, e.g. administrative and judicial processes, which are not at all obvious or necessary. The Ministry of the Interior gradually took over all resident permit administration from the, supposedly, expensive and corrupted Alien Police. Especially since that time one could have observed what the proclaimed goal to "save" means in practice.

Be strict and verify several times

The fixed idea that every foreigner inherently circumvents the law, and that this can only be prevented by the introduction of more and stricter rules, obviously prevails within the Ministry of the Interior. Continuously hired public servants of the Interior Ministry with lower pay rates are trying (under considerable pressure from superiors) to rigorously examine every foreigner at least several times. That includes those who have been in the country legally for four years and only ask for an extension of a regular work or business permit. Just an example - a migrant who is a freelancer or entrepreneur must at all times have sufficient profit, if he/she does not work anymore, he/she must immediately (together with family and children) abandon his/her entire life in our country, and so on.

The result is a system of triple control, while for the Police (whose work certainly was not unproblematic) several weeks and work of a few people was enough to extend a permit. A routine operation of a permit extension thus becomes a months or even years long ordeal, which employs an army of civil servants, appellate authorities, courts and police. Due to the inability or unwillingness of the Ministry to extend their stays foreigners are forced to submit so called actions against inaction, file court actions to determine a time limit for administrative decisions or submit requests and claims for damages - further administrative and judicial proceedings which quite unreasonably burden the state register.

In addition to this, there are also ill-considered restrictions on the labour market, which newly and often inappropriately interpret the legislation and are subsequently cancelled (recent examples are prohibitions and further re-authorization of business trips of foreigners or all-round validation of education and diplomas), invent constraints to family life of Czech citizens and foreigners, and so on. This all in its turn generates new administrative and judicial proceedings, the need for interpreting, rising costs for lawyers, etc. All the proceedings are checked by an army of civil servants from labour offices, labour inspection, the Alien Police and the departments of the Ministry of the Interior. As a result, a single department at the Ministry of the Interior has more than 900 employees who are dedicated mainly to restriction, which, in the absolute majority of cases, is unnecessary.

Sometimes, the bias of the state goes into complete absurdity. One examples can be shown in the cancellation of permits for two entrepreneurs from the Karlovarsky region because they failed to show up for "questioning" regarding extension of their stay, which was summoned by a "state security officer" in the end of July, when both men were on holiday abroad. Upon their return the men filed an appeal asking for a reversion of the deadline, but a rejection followed anyway - red tape ties everything up and does not understand that these businessmen pay taxes or employ Czech citizens.

Another example is the simple act of access to the applicant’s file which previously was enabled by the Police on the same day or at the most in a week. Now it has been promoted by the Ministry to a special administrative proceeding. The access to the file is subject to a written request to which the applicant will receive an answer within 30 days with an invitation to come at 9 am to look at the file at a place which is 200 km away. The whole process is quite unnecessary; such a matter could be solved by one phone call, the way it had been smoothly done by the Alien Police. The immigrant agenda was transferred from the Alien Police to the Department for Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of the Interior in 2011.

Since the beginning of the transfer the Interior Ministry has not been able to handle the applications on time [1]. The problem is reportedly connected to a lack of human recourses. With this reasoning the department has currently obtained 98 new positions. At a first glance it is quite a logical step, however, it reveals itself in a different point of view if one considers what these civil servants do during their work time. If the newly hired civil servants continue in a similar manner as current employees of the Ministry who check for a fifth, sixth and seventh time whether a Czech husband actually lives with his Ukrainian wife, or if they would require entrepreneurs to prove for a second or third time that they do not have a specified income (which civil servants themselves often cannot calculate and no one requires this from Czech entrepreneurs), the approved "decision" of the Ministry of the Interior, in my opinion, will only be money thrown out of the window. The mentality and the management of the Ministry have to change, and it is especially necessary to define the vision of Czech migration policy, in other words – what kind of migration do we actually want? And that is the kind we should support.

Unfortunately, the appetite grows while eating: proposed changes.

Under the proposed amendment to the Aliens Act, which is currently in the Chamber of Deputies, the Ministry of the Interior would decide if a foreigner can ask his/her employer to change the type of work he/she is doing. In addition, in a completely new draft of the Aliens Act the Ministry is to gain further authority, such as the intelligent services would need to approve of each granted or extended residence permit, even in case of simple confirmations of stay for EU citizens - the vast majority of which are Slovaks. My guess would be that around 10 government officials from at least four state agencies will thus work on a single trivial extension of a residence permit for a Ukrainian maid. Overall, the draft of the new Aliens Act, which contained more than 350 pages without implementing regulations, is at a first legal glance an absurd work that the addressees - the foreigners – would not at all be able to understand or follow.

What is the way out? We could have saved on hundreds of civil servants positions and thousands of appeal and litigation proceedings if there was an expert leading the migration policy who would not make drama out of the peaceful lives of foreigners in order to prove his importance in the whole system. Poles have sensibly and calmly started the regularization of more than 4,000 foreigners without a residence permit, because everyone understands that a foreigner with legal residence is much better for the state in terms of tax and security systems than an undocumented migrant. Around 100,000 Ukrainians come to Poland every year for seasonal work and nothing is happening. Now Poland is opening labour migration for the citizens of Armenia. Only in our country is there a need to push into the corner, and then into illegality, the remaining foreign workers from third countries, and then create and proudly present ad hoc programs [2] for large companies that cannot, under current conditions, normally hire employees.

Let's as a state accept the fact that migration has been, is, and will be a natural phenomenon, and that foreigners will just live here with us. In addition, we have a unique advantage of not having external EU border, migration flows therefore bypass us and "our" foreign communities are relatively homogeneous with great integration potential - the biggest groups are Slovaks, Ukrainians and Vietnamese. So the question is whether foreigners will live here with us in legality, with dignity and with minimum discrimination or illegally, without dignity and with violation of their rights.


The text was written under the project called "Foreign workers in the labour market," which was carried out by the Association for Integration and Migration, in cooperation with the Organization for Aid to Refugees and the Multicultural Center Prague. International project partners are Caritasverband für die Diezöse Osnabrück from Germany and the Anti-Slavery International from Great Britain.

[1] For example, in June 2013 (in Prague only) 16,000 files were not processed before the deadline for temporary residence and 5800 for permanent residence.

[2] More, for example, project “Fast Track”, more about the project http://czechinvest.org/data/files/zrychlena-procedura-pro-vnitrpodnikovu-prevadune-zamustnance-zahranicnich-investoru-3656-cz.pdf

Martin Rozumek
Martin Rozumek is a lawyer and the director of the Organisation for Aid to Refugees (Organizace pro pomoc uprchlíkům – OPU).
9. 7. 14
Zdroj: migrationonline.cz
...up ▲