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May 2000, Volume 7, Number 5

Africa: Unauthorized Foreigners

South Africa. South African police arrested more than 8,000 unauthorized foreigners in March 2000 in an effort to reduce crime attributed to immigrants. However, at least half of the 1,000 Mozambicans on a detention train bound for their homeland escaped before they were returned to Mozambique.

About 48 Malawains deported from South Africa arrived in Malawi on April 7; many complained that they were not given sufficient time to collect their belongings.

Ann Bernstein, director of the Center for Development and Enterprise (CDE), argued that the quota system currently used to limit the entry of skilled foreigners reduces economic growth in South Africa. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) agreed, urging the Department of Home Affairs to permit foreign mine workers to move up the job ladder in mining. Employers wishing to hire foreigners must pay a training levy designed to qualify South Africans for the jobs being filled by foreigners.

The Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) reported that 25 percent of South Africans want a total ban on immigration and 45 percent support strict limits on the numbers of immigrants to be allowed into the country. SAMP found that 17 percent of South Africans would support a more flexible policy tied to the availability of jobs, and six percent support a totally open policy of immigration. According to SAMP, "This is the highest level of opposition to immigration recorded by any country in the world where comparable questions have been asked."

SAMP said that the South African government had deported over one million foreigners since 1990; 82 percent were Mozambiquens.

Angola. Angola deported 500 illegal migrants so far in 2000, from western Africa and European countries, including Britain, Spain, France and Italy. The crackdown came after a government report which blamed the country's worsening economic situation on foreign nationals and called for tighter controls on entry and residence requirements.

On April 12, Angola denied entry to 27 Portuguese citizens because they did not have work permits. Angolan authorities accused a Portuguese construction company that is operating in Angola of employing 100 Portuguese citizens without the proper working papers. Some of the workers were given working permits; about 15 were expelled.

"Angola cracks down on illegal immigrants, turns away 500," Agence France Presse, April 12, 2000.