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Ronald Zak/AP
Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, from left,
share a laugh during a recent news conference. Sarkozy says Europe needs immigrants,
but he insists their entry must be regulated. (AP)

EU Passes Controversial Immigration Law

June 23, 2008 04:44 PM
by Denis Cummings
The European Parliament has passed a standardized policy on deporting illegal immigrants, part of a wider crackdown on illegal immigration to the EU.

30-Second Summary

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The European Parliament voted last week to allow its member countries to detain illegal immigrants as long as 18 months in specialized detention centers. There may also be a 5-year re-entry ban on expelled immigrants.

Many human rights groups have criticized the legislation. “We believe that the text approved today by the European Parliament does not guarantee the return of irregular migrants in safety and dignity,” read a statement by Amnesty International. “It sets an extremely bad example.”

Lawmakers contend that they are merely standardizing immigration law across the EU and establishing maximum penalties for illegal immigrants, and that countries are free to set less strict immigration laws.

The law applies to the 25 EU countries bound by the Schengen Agreement, which allows for free movement between Schengen countries. Great Britain and Ireland are not part of the Schengen area and will not implement the new law. Denmark, according to Schengen rules, has a right to opt-out.

EU leaders are now shifting their focus to legislation that will help keep illegal immigrants out of the EU. Right wing French President Nicolas Sarkozy takes over the EU presidency next month and promises to make immigration reform one of his top priorities.

Headline Links: EU standardizes deportation policy, looks to keep illegals out

Reactions: Human rights groups, South American leaders criticize law

Background: EU immigration policies

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