After Syrians, Moroccan migrants face deportation risk in Turkey

Image: REUTERS/Giorgos Moutafis

Pressure on migrants and refugees in Turkey is mounting as Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections in June 2023 come nearer, with Turkish authorities and the opposition adopting xenophobic rhetoric in the country.

A few days ago, Turkish authorities announced that they would implement their mandatory plan to deport hundreds of Moroccan migrants to their home country.

The decision is in line with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government earlier announcement to repatriate 1 million Syrian refugees on a “voluntary basis” to their country, together with Afghans living in Turkey.

Earlier last week, the Turkish Interior Ministry announced the deportation of 3,380 irregular migrants between September 2 and 8, increasing the number of irregular migrants deported since the beginning of this year to 78,716.

Among the deportees, there were hundreds of Moroccan immigrants. “The Turkish authorities have begun implementing their plan to deport Moroccan immigrants, and impose a tight security blockade on Moroccan immigrants who use Turkey as a transit station to reach Europe.” According to informed sources,

the authorities are working on security and military camps construction to receive migrants deported from Greece, including Moroccans, noting that the aim of these camps is to investigate them before deporting them to their country later, with a five-year ban on their travel.

Political issue

“The Turkish authorities consider the matter of migrants a political issue, as for Moroccans Turkey is a transit country heading to the European Union, and the migrants’ card has often been used as a means of pressure on the EU countries“, says Driss Sedraoui, National President of the Moroccan League for Citizenship. As for Moroccans as a new target group, Sedraoui continues that “Turkish interests come first.” Some of them are exploited and others are attacked while being placed in detention centers in preparation for their deportation.”

Trump behavior

“As Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections approach next summer, political parties are beginning to exploit the issue of migrants to win more electoral votes. Initially, the opposition was calling for the deportation of foreigners and began to influence Turkish voter opinions, and it seems that Erdogan’s government began to change its political discourse regarding the issue of immigrants and foreigners in order to win electoral votes.” According to Taha al-Ghazi, a political activist in Turkey “the Turkish authorities have already started deporting Moroccan immigrants. Those migrants are at risk of deportation of two types: some of them recently arrived in Turkey for several months illegally with the aim of crossing to the European countries, and these are clandestine migrants who do not have regular residence papers. The others are migrants who have been on Turkish soil for several years and have regular residence papers and do their jobs, most of them are workers. ”Regular Moroccan migrants in Turkey have been forced to leave to Europe due to deteriorating economic conditions, high inflation in the country and xenophobic racist rhetoric.

Detention cases

The Turkish city of Edirne witnessed many detention cases of Moroccan immigrants who dream of reaching Europe, stressing that these centers usually include illegal immigrants that the Turkish authorities intend to deport to their countries.

Ultra-Turkish politician and leader of the Victory Party, Ümit Özag, recently described Turkey as a “refugee-occupied country,” referring to Syrian refugees fleeing the war.

Cumhuriyet newspaper has reported that Turkey would limit residence permits for foreigners to 20 percent of the population in certain neighborhoods, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters at Ankara’s Directorate General of Migration Management.

A card on which the government and the opposition are competing

The migrants’ and refugees’ fate in Turkey has become a card on which the government and the opposition are competing, in light of the escalation of racist and inflammatory rhetoric against everything that is

foreign in Turkey, together with the high inflation rates in the country and the depreciation of the Turkish lira.

Government and opposition did not find a better solution than the issue of immigrants and refugees to alleviate popular pressures, knowing that the decline in the economic situation in the country has nothing to do with the presence of foreigners, according to what economists confirm. On the contrary, foreigners have a positive role in supplying the Turkish economy.

Turkey received about 3 billion Euros annually from the European Union in support of its Syrian refugees, as these funds went to the Turkish state treasury first before distributing it to refugees and building facilities

The cheap labor force, both for immigrants and refugees, was enough to operate hundreds of factories in Turkey. For example, many factories in Turkey stopped working recently after being left by Syrians under pressure of racism, and migration westward towards the “European dream” to search for a better life. It is the case for Moroccans and others who are trying to leave Turkey and go to Europe.

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