Greek authorities said that more than 1,600 illegal immigrants will be deported after police cracked down in Athens over the past several days.
More than 6,000 people were arrested over the past few days, but most of them were released, the BBC reported. On Sunday, around 88 illegal immigrants were deported to Pakistan.
Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said the police crackdown was necessary because the debt-ridden country could not deal with more immigrants.
“The immigration problem is maybe even bigger than the financial one,” he was quoted by the Athens News as saying. Illegal immigration is a “bomb at the foundations of the society and of the state,” he continued.
“Unless we create the proper structure to handle immigration, then we will fall apart,” Dendias said.
He said the “invasion of immigrants” in recent years is the largest influx Greece has faced since the invasion of the Dorians, a Hellenic group, which took place several thousand years ago.
The police crackdown was controversially named Xenios Zeus after Greece’s patron of hospitality and guests.
In Greece, “the way illegal immigrants lived they had no human rights,” Dendias said, according to the Ekathimerini newspaper. “They were crammed in rundown, unhealthy basement apartments.”
“They were conned by smuggling rings into believing they would be able to get a job and travel to Europe,” he said.
“Now they will return to their home countries. … It’s the best thing that could happen to them,” he added.
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