Greece Rounds Up Immigrants in Athens, Will Deport 1,600

After a major crackdown in Athens over the weekend, Greek police say they will deport more than 1,600 illegal immigrants in the days to come. 88 people were sent back to Pakistan on Sunday; some 8,000 people have been detained and most released.

There are about 800,000 legally-registered immigrants in Greece and at least 350,000 who are not. About 90 percent of illegal immigrants who enter Europe do so through Greece, via the land border it shares with Turkey and its numerous islands.

Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Greece

Illegal immigration has become a growing concern and a politically sensitive topic in Greece and one seized upon by far-right party the Golden Dawn. Indeed, last week, members of the Golden Dawn passed out free food outside the Greek parliament but only to Greek citizens who provided personal information, including their blood type.

Greece is in its fifth year of recession and the Greek government is down to the “crucial weeks” of talks with the “troika,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission, to ensure that it is following through on pledges made in a bailout agreement. The country is (again) due to run out of cash unless it receives the next tranche of bailout funds. Greece has so far made cuts of 11.5 billion euros; these will likely mean further cuts to pensions and salaries, higher taxes and reductions in government services and agencies.

It all does not bode well for Greece to better tackle the needs of the numerous immigrants who have found their way to its borders.

Amnesty International has accused Greece for treating asylum seeks as criminals and holding them in detention centers. Greece has countered that the European Union should help it address the issue, on the grounds that it bears a disproportionate burden.

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias: “The immigration problem is perhaps even bigger than the financial one”

Regardless, the issue of illegal immigration exposes some ugly attitudes among politicians. Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said immigrants are a “bomb at the foundations of the society and of the state” and that the “best thing that could happen to them” is to return to their home countries.” According to the daily Ekathimerini, Dendias told Skai radio that “Our social fabric is in danger of unraveling. The immigration problem is perhaps even bigger than the financial one.”

Dendias also compared the “invasion of immigrants” to the arrival of the Dorians who are believed (there is no conclusive historical evidence) to have migrated from the north to the Peloponnese in the south at the end of the Bronze Age (around 1100 BCE) and to have played a role in the fall of the ancient Mycenean civilization, which is evoked in the epic poetry of Homer.

The code name of the crackdown operation, Xenios Zeus, also drew on Greece’s past; Xenios Zeus evokes the chief of the Olympian gods in his roles as patron of hospitality and guests. According to Dendias, the name shows that the campaign is “designed to restore the basic human rights of immigrant people in Greece.” But Dendias seems to be operating according to his own definition of human rights:

“The way illegal immigrants lived they had no human rights. They were crammed in rundown, unhealthy basement apartments. They were conned by smuggling rings into believing they would be able to get a job and travel to Europe.”

“Xenios” not only means “host” and “guest.” It also means “stranger” and is the root word of the English “xenophobia.” Dendias’ code name may be even more appropriate than he realizes.

In the face of uncertainty about the country’s economic fate, tourism has been down in Greece though a rash of bookings by the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have given it a bit of a boost. Viewpoints like that of Dendias unfortunately suggest that Greece is a place that welcomes only some within its borders.


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Greek Olympian Sent Home Over Racist Tweet


Photo of Pakistani immigrants in Athens by kouk


Howard Crosse
.4 years ago

I live in a part of the UK which has seen a huge number of legal immigrants, mainly but not exclusively from Poland; Polish people are no longer a minority in Boston, Lincolnshire, in fact Boston, a smallish market town, has the second largest Polish community in the UK, second only to London (goodness how much bigger London is than Boston). This has led to some problems, language and culture being one of them but it has benefits as well. Boston has far less closed shops than many other towns and the number of young, working age people is much higher than it would have otherwise been. It should be stressed however that these are legal immigrants. The issues with illegal immigrants, there are a fair few of them as well, are different. Such people are often exploited, a couple of years ago a group of illegal Chinese workers died due in part to poor health and safety issues; such people are also very poorly paid, suffer poor living conditions and provide an excellent opportunity for those who would choose to exploit them. This in turn disadvantages those who work 'within the system'. The UK, in common with other EU countries, has numerous Laws in place to protect the rights of its' workers, this in turn increases the cost of employing such people, illegal immigrants undercut legal workers, taking jobs from them. Such a system cannot be allowed to continue.

carole f.
carole Fr,aser4 years ago

I agree Britian is bursting at the seems with all these immigrants comming in and they dont know how many illegal immigrants are in the country pluse we dont know the background of these people their could be murderes,thiefs etc its very scary i know where Greece is comming from they are quite right to send them back home its getting out of hand their are no jobs for their own people and housing and its putting pressure on the Government and causing a revolt in their country so my opinion is i agree with Greece.

Bill Reese
Bill Reese4 years ago

Jeremy, I can see you have not lived in an area that is flooded with illegal aliens, busting the local government budget at the expense of the legal residents.

I fully agree with Tania's statement. Withour immigration laws we become lawless. and yes if a country has the death penalty it may not be the best answer, but it make one thing certain, it reduces the killer from killing a second time.

Once we loose control of our population then we have no idea of what kind of a budget we need to care for our people in the future. The illegal alien has one choice, in my humble opinion, STAY HOME or b e SENT HOME. Thank you.

Jeremy Schanche
Jeremy Schanche4 years ago

Hi Tania, if you are such a big fan of the guilotine, you'll be happy to know that they still use it in that great ally of the West, namely Saudi Arabia. Just a few days ago a woman was beheaded there. Now are you happy? Incidentally, if the Death Penalty works, then why do people keep killing each other? Also, if killing is morally wrong, is it morally right to kill killers to prove that killing is wrong? Some things to think about.
Is Justice the middle way between medieval barbarism and letting them off 'scot-free'?

Tania S.
Tania S4 years ago

I think that if you're an illegal immigrant ANYWHERE in the world you shouldn't be allowed to stay there. Now if you'd like to apply for citizenship, by all means, bring out the welcome wagon! I love talking to people of different cultures and making friends :).
The only problem I have with immigration is when the immigrants come to our home lands and complain about our laws and our rules and try to have them changed to suit them and their religion. How I see it: if you don't like it LEAVE!
If we were to go to another (say 'their' country) and tried anything like that, we'd be laughed at, or deported...especially if you're a woman!
Us Canadians are too lenient on everything nowadays, child molesters are being let out (search High Risk Offender Eric Davidson-Brown) and serial killers are freed, protected and given a new identity (Karla Homolka). WTF!? Why can't we just go back to the days of the guillotine, it might scare some people into behaving properly!
End rant lol.

Jeremy Schanche
Jeremy Schanche4 years ago

Let's have some consistency: Modern Greek immigrants have moved to Australia, USA, Britain etc. in their thousands - I have no problem with this - I love the Greeks. Greece (Achaea) has colonized France, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Sicily, Libya, Egypt, Persia, Bactria, India etc.etc.. America is the richest country on earth - but is a country built up largely of immigrants. It may be hard for someone from a rich land to understand the desperation that forces someone to leave their homeland to seek a reasonable life. Remember that's why your ancestors colonized America - they wanted a better chance. Is it not hypocritical to deny that chance to others? I'm from Britain, a melting pot for countless waves of immigration, without it we'd be a bunch of interbred, haemophiliacs. We Are All Immigrants..

Bill Reese
Bill Reese4 years ago

Stella thank you for your comment on this subject, as it is very timely and I hope many Americans wake up to the fact that today America is going down the same path as Greece. America is sending billions to the oil rich Middle East to support and care for our enemies, but we cannot solve our own illegal alien problems. In fact many Americans do not even recognize the challenges. Sad, but when one day their kin is out of work or paying too much in supporting illegal's then they may wake up to what our current fake president has laid upon us.

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago

Illegal aliens should be sent home, the rest of the article...............................................

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to this world. Whats next??

Stella Ward
Stella Ward5 years ago

Here is a reality we are living with in Greece: Jobs are being lost at an alarming rate for the legal citizens here due to the bad economy, the legal citizens want to work and cannot find jobs such as myself, and those who are lucky to have a job work from very early morning - still dark outside - to late at night, even till 11:00p.m. sometimes, such as my brother and his wife. The medical system has gone down the drain to the point where people with serious illnesses cannot afford their medication and those who can cannot always get the medications they need. The education system is cr*p due to non-payment of teachers, the schools not getting the maintenance they need and the material being taught is being dileberately changed to the point where parents cannot even help their children any more and the children are ending up almost illiterate (that is our future workforce and government we are talking about). Now here come hordes of illegal immigrants, hundreds to thousands entering daily through the "generosity" of Turkey purposely letting them through and not providing asylum to them, with the intention that Greece be just a way station to other more prosperous areas such as Germany, the Netherlands etc, but those wonderful nations have closed their borders completely to the immigrants without even giving them a chance to apply for asylum so the immigrant influx is stuck here with no proper paperwork and even when they do find any illegal immigrants in their nation they