Greece denies report on US plan to refer migrants for resettlement

By Thomson Reuters May 31, 2024 | 8:12 AM

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece on Friday dismissed a report that the United States was planning to refer some migrants in Latin America for resettlement in the Mediterranean country in a bid to discourage them from travelling to the U.S. border with Mexico.

CBS News reported on Thursday that the scheme would involve Greece and Italy welcoming a small number of migrants processed at migration offices that the U.S. administration set up last year in four Latin America countries to screen migrants who hope to reach the United States.

“The CBS report is untrue. There is neither an agreement nor a request from the U.S. to resettle legal immigrants in Greece,” Greece’s Migration Minister Dimitris Kairidis wrote on X on Friday.

Greece has been a favoured gateway to the European Union for migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Asia since 2015, when nearly 1 million people landed on its islands, causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and overstretching the country’s capacity for hosting them.

Migrant flows through Greece had dropped significantly before resurging in recent months, which has helped decongest the country’s migrant camps amid tighter border surveillance by the conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Kairidis said that Greece’s migration policy was effective, respecting the law and human life.

As part of an EU-wide campaign to clamp down on irregular immigration that has fuelled a rise in the popularity of the far right, Italy has clinched a deal with Albania to build processing centres for migrants that it will send across the Adriatic sea to its Balkan neighbour.

That accord has similarities with Britain’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda in East Africa as a deterrent to further migrant journeys in small boats across the Channel from France organised by human traffickers.

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order next week to curb migration along the U.S. southern border with Mexico, two sources familiar with the plans said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Hugh Lawson)