European Community Backs Voice for Immigrants

A LONG with harmonizing policy among its members, the European Community is aiming to provide immigrants with a voice in the developing discussion of immigration issues.To this end, the Commission has created an advisory council made up of representatives from immigrant communities in each of the 12 member states. The 25-member Migrants Forum, which began operating in May, immediately zeroed in on the issue of how the move toward a single European market in 1992 will affect immigrants. The EC's Annette Bosscher notes, for example, that identity checks by police based on physical characteristics are already common "and only going to increase when borders are lifted." "Immigrants will no longer have the same rights. We feel they will no longer be equals in Europe," says Abdou Menebhi, a member of the Forum's executive committee and a representative of the Moroccan community in the Netherlands. "To rectify that we plan to take up with the Commission and the [European] parliament the issues of free movement, employment access, security, voting rights, and citizenship." Mr. Menebhi is encouraged by the forum as "the expression of a willingness to hear us," but he is not terribly confident. As a "security measure" of his own, he has filed for Dutch citizenship so he can acquire an EC passport.

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