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European Commission chief urges unity on illegal immigration policy

[JURIST] European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso [official profile] has called on all European Union (EU) [official website] member states to collaborate in stemming the tide of illegal immigrants. On Thursday, Barroso wrote a letter [PDF text] to the heads of the 25 countries of the EU, stating that "the massive arrival of illegal immigrants to the European Union, mainly to the Spanish, Italian and Maltese coasts, is a European problem and requires a European effort." The letter comes a day after 900 refugees reached Spain's Canary Islands, bringing its total number of arrivals for 2006 to 22,000.

Barroso announced the creation of a special commission to address the problem, which EU Justice and Migration Commissioner Franco Frattini [official profile] will chair. The EC has devoted €3.2 million to patrolling the waters surrounding the Canary Islands, in addition to efforts of Frontex [official website], the EU's official border patrol agency. Last week, however, Frattini blamed a three-month Spanish amnesty program [JURIST report] for encouraging the wave of immigrants. Spain plans to hold a meeting with leaders from eight other EU states later this month to discuss approaches. EUObserver.com has more. El Pais has local coverage [in Spanish].

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