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MOSCOW, August 21. /ITAR-TASS/. The growing number of guest workers, many of them illegal, and soaring rates of crime among the new arrivals, are forcing the Russian authorities to take counter-measures. In one of the latest moves along these lines, the Federal Migration Service (FMS) has drafted a special bill on immigration control in Russia. Under the document, the FMS may get new powers - to question suspects, to conduct investigations of its own and to have informers.
Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika has welcomed the idea of giving the FMS inquest powers in relation to illegal immigration-related crimes. He said that last year, over 17 million foreign nationals entered Russia and 5 million of them were now employed in Russia illegally.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Alexander Buksman supported the proposal of complementing the range of FMS powers with inquest functions. He said 87% of migrants were young people and “many of them are employed in the shadow business, in particular, drug trafficking-related matters".
Some analysts hail the emergence of migration police, while others suspect that the FMS will be controlling itself and intervening with the Interior Ministry’s realm of competence. Everybody agrees, though, that the problem of struggle with illegal migration has come to the forefront and that the Interior Ministry sometimes fails to cope with its job in this respect.
“Certainly, the FMS is to be given the powers to question and investigate. Otherwise, hundreds of migrants go unpunished for the crimes they have committed, which angers the Muscovites,” the city’s human rights commissioner, Alexander Muzykantsky told ITAR-TASS.
“The oddest thing is whereas before human rights activists’ efforts were aimed mostly at protecting the rights of migrants, these days, against the backdrop of massive migration, it is the rights of Moscow’s residents that need protection. According to the head office of the Moscow police force, last year the city saw more than 10,000 crimes committed by migrants. These account for 48% of robberies, 34% of armed robberies, 32% of thefts and 57% of rapes. Crimes involving migrants often prove high-profile, trigger conflicts and fuel nationalism,” Muzykantsky said.
"The Federal Migration Service should not be treated as a branch of the Interior Ministry. It is to be made a body of authority in its own right. The immigration police is a vital need,” says a deputy chairman of the State Duma’s Security Committee, Alexander Khinshtein. The deputy head of the nationalities affairs committee at the State Duma, Tamara Pletnyova, disagrees. “The problem should be tackled differently. First, the real demand for guest workers must be identified and then the needed workforce invited to certain enterprises and construction sites according to the established quotas. Then the number of illegal migrants will go down significantly.”
“Russia unequivocally needs a special migration police force as an agency responsible for controlling the observance of migration legislation, for fighting against abusers, in particular, with organized crime in that sphere, because as a matter of fact organized criminal schemes are the root cause of this evil,” the president of the National Strategy Institute Mikhail Remizov told ITAR-TASS.
“However, I am not certain if a future migration police should operate under the auspices of the FMS. What makes the problem so serious is that the FMS has a dual function of drafting a migration policy and monitoring its implementation. It may turn out that the FMS as a law enforcement structure, if it ever becomes such by the law, will be obliged to control itself. There may develop a conflict of interests. The FMS will seek to present the most favorable picture of the results of its efforts,” the analyst said.
“Remizov argues that a full-fledged migration police force should be created and developed within the Interior Ministry’s system, because the crime rings operating inside the community of illegal migrants are a major force with a vast potential to offer resistance to the law enforcers. In any case, the problem of creating a migration police is high on the agenda, and what agency it should be subordinate to remains to be seen,” Remizov said.
According to United Nations statistics, Russia by the number of migrants holds second place after the United States, so it would be appropriate to recall that the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks abolished its immigration service. The functions were split among three agencies within the Department of Homeland Security: Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection.
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