Most Greeks support clampdown on illegal immigration, poll shows

Ahead of May elections, more than six in 10 Greeks, or 61.7 percent, agree with recent government moves to clamp down on illegal immigration in the country, a poll showed.

A survey of 1,610 Greeks over the age of 18 by Kapa Research SA for To Vima newspaper published Sunday found that 83.4 percent of interviewees believe illegal immigration is a major problem for Greece while 48.3 percent said that the main priority of any immigration policy should be to gradually remove all immigrants from the country, up from 19.5 percent in a similar poll in 2009.

Greece’s government plans to create 30 detention centers on the mainland to house illegal immigrants, who don’t qualify for asylum, before they are deported, the country’s Citizen Protection Ministry said March 27.

More than half of those surveyed by Kapa, or 54.7 percent, said such centers are necessary while 61.7 percent said recent Greek police actions to carry out widespread identification checks and arrests of illegal immigrants is a move in the right direction to control the problem.

Greece will require immigrants to obtain health certificates before being granted work permits and those with contagious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis will be quarantined in medical facilities, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos said April 1. Nearly 72 percent of those surveyed agree with the requirement, the poll showed.

The land border between Greece and Turkey is the main entry point for immigrants into the European Union from Asia, according to Frontex, the EU’s Warsaw-based agency for external border security. In 2011, about 100,000 people were arrested for crossing Greece’s borders illegally, according to Greek police statistics. Greece is due to hold elections on May 6 or May 13. [Bloomberg] - 

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