Sarah speaking about illegal immigration and Frontex

April 23, 2008 12:00 AM
By Sarah Ludford in European Parliament

Madam President, Member States have both a right and a duty to control their borders properly, to manage immigration and to cooperate between themselves and through the European Union, whether or not they are in Schengen, which, sadly, my country is not. That means that they must cooperate with Frontex and through Frontex, insofar as they are legally allowed to do so, and must support the so-called RABITS - the mobile border guards - and make sure that Frontex is properly resourced.

But well-managed borders should not mean the inhumane treatment of migrants or negligence of the need to respect refugee law by giving access to an asylum determination procedure. Therefore, we should parallel having mobile border guards by having asylum expert teams, who could be deployed at short notice to deal with large influxes of would-be migrants, and making sure that they individually assess any potential claims.

Frontex cannot be a substitute for a comprehensive migration system - which we still do not have - which covers illegal immigration and legal migration and which has proper legal migration channels, as well as preserving the asylum channel.

Lastly, I am wary of the trend to mix immigration and criminality. The term 'border security', which is often used, tends to suggest automatically that immigrants are a threat. Most of them are not. They may not have a legal entitlement to come, but that does not necessarily mean that they are criminals.