[JURIST] The Permanent Representatives Committee of the Council of the European Union [official website] Thursday agreed on a draft proposal [press release, PDF] for new rules to combat illegal immigration. Under the proposal, illegal aliens caught within the EU could be deported and banned from returning for five years. Authorities in member states would be allowed to detain aliens for up to 18 months, a period longer than that currently authorized in most EU states. Amnesty International and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) [Advocacy websites] have issued a joint statement [PDF; press release, PDF] criticizing the proposed detention limit as a threat to human rights. The European Parliament [official website] is reportedly deeply divided about the proposal and it is unclear if it will go through with a vote scheduled for next month. The Times of Malta has more.
The European Union (EU) [official website] estimates that between 350,000 to 500,000 illegal immigrants enter its member states annually, mainly fulfilling jobs in construction and farming.