Bill on migrants criticised as unclear


THE GOVERNMENT’S latest version of its Immigration Bill still fails to provide clear rules on who can come and live in Ireland and what conditions and rights they have, a leading NGO has warned.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland said yesterday that the proposed Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 would result in inconsistent decision-making, delays and a continued reliance on the courts to decide many cases.

Provisions enabling the State to deport migrants without any possibility of appealing a decision would also breach Ireland’s human rights obligations, the council said in a paper on the new Bill.

The council criticised the Bill for its continued reliance on ministerial discretion for decision-making and a failure to provide an independent review system.

Another major area of concern was its failure to provide sufficient safeguards for victims of human trafficking. The Bill failed to introduce a right to permanent residence status for migrants living in Ireland for five years or more or provide sufficient clarity around the right to family reunification, the paper said.

Council chief executive Denise Charlton said the redrafted Bill would perpetuate an immigration system that was unfair, inefficient and costly. She said the introduction of “summary deportation” would enable the State to remove people without appeal and could lead to serious injustices.

Under the current system, people have 15 days to appeal a deportation order. She said the legislation made no allowance for people in exceptional circumstances in relation to summary deportation, whereby lawfully resident migrants – or even vulnerable Irish people suffering from mental health problems – could be removed from the country without a right of appeal.

“The council is deeply concerned that the introduction of summary deportations could even result in the deportation of vulnerable Irish citizens or lawfully resident migrants who are unable to prove they have a legal right to be in Ireland,” said Ms Charlton.

She said the provisions in the redrafted Bill on summary deportation run contrary to recent Supreme Court decisions and a recommendation from the UN human rights committee.

The redrafted Bill is the third attempt by successive governments to pass immigration legislation.

In June, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern withdrew the 2008 Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill following sustained criticism from Opposition parties. It had tabled several hundred amendments prompting Mr Ahern to withdraw and then republish the Bill in July, incorporating some of the amendments.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman dismissed the council’s criticism yesterday, saying the Bill contained extensive review processes for the different types of decisions that arise at various stages of the immigration process.

“In addition,” she said, “foreign nationals affected by any decisions giving rise to such reviews have the option to seek judicial review of those decisions by the courts, where they consider that there has been a procedural irregularity.”