State To Tap Immigrant Return Fund

State to tap immigrant return fund

By Michael Brennan
Political Correspondent
Irish Independent
Monday December 07 2009

THE Government is seeking EU funds to get illegal immigrants from Nigeria, China and Brazil to leave the country.

It wants to tap into the European Return Fund (2008-2013), which is worth almost 700m, to pay for the return of illegal immigrants.

In its tendering documents, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) said: “There will be a strong emphasis on programmes focused on Nigeria, China and Brazil.”

INIS said it wanted to collaborate with non-governmental organisations “to increase the range of voluntary return programmes available and promote the voluntary return option as an alternative to forced removal”.

The top five source countries for asylum applications in the first 10 months of this year were Nigeria (499 people), Pakistan (216), China (169), the Democratic Republic of Congo (91) and Moldova (79). But the overall number of applications (2,354) is the lowest since the mid 1990s and far below the peak of 11,634 refugee applications in 2002.

The European Return Fund also provides for the creation of joint charter flights to deport illegal immigrants. These flights would be managed by Frontex, the European agency (based in Warsaw, Poland) which is in charge of the EU's external borders.

INIS said in its tender documents that one of its priorities was “increased participation by Ireland in charter operations organised through Frontex”. But it said the available EU funding for deportation flights had dropped to around 254,000, which meant that just one or “possibly two” flights could be provided.


“Nigeria, China and Brazil have been identified as priority countries of return and, therefore, available resources will, in the main, be directed at returns to these three countries. Projects which focus on returns to other countries may also be considered,” the documents said.

Unlike the voluntary returns programme, all of the charter flights for deportations will be managed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

According to the Department of Justice, there were deportation orders signed for 939 people up until the end of October this year and 240 people were subsequently deported. This is significantly up on last year.

The overall cost of the voluntary return and deportation programme is expected to be 1.1m, with the EU providing half of the funding and the state providing the other half.

The NGOs and international organisations that are awarded contracts under the EU scheme are likely to be asked to run advertising campaigns directed at illegal immigrants.

“The promotion of voluntary return through publicity and information campaigns will be an important aspect of selected projects,” the INIS tender documents said.

– Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

Irish Independent


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