Greece’s immigration minister says the government is planning a major migrant legalization program to meet pressing labor market demands despite a recent surge in illegal arrivals.
Dimitris Kairidis told state radio on Tuesday that the program would target about 300,000 undocumented migrants or whose residence permits have expired to help address acute shortages in agriculture, construction and tourism.
The plan – similar to a 2020 reform in Italy – was to be discussed later on Tuesday at a national security meeting attended by cabinet members and military leaders and chaired by centre-right Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Kairidis said.
SALVAGE SHIPS LOOKING FOR HUNDREDS OF MIGRANTS OFF THE COAST OF GREECE FOLLOWING A WRECK
“We do not want to create new incentives for further illegal (immigrant) flows because that is the danger,” the minister said. “On the other hand, we want to go from black to white … from undeclared to declared work to boost public revenue with taxes and employment contributions and help address the dramatic (labour) shortages in some sectors.”
Kairidis said the shortages are slowing down landmark public works projects, including the construction of a metro system in Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, and a new airport on the island of Crete.
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The plans were announced amid a recent surge in migrant arrivals from Turkey to Greece’s eastern islands.
Authorities on Tuesday said 45 migrants – 14 men, nine women, 14 boys and eight girls – were rescued by the coast guard from a stranded boat near the eastern island of Samos, with no others believed to be missing.
Greece is seeking emergency financial aid from the European Union to cope with the recent surge in arrivals.