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Poland announces new amnesty policy

The Poland Ministry of Interior [official website] announced Thursday a new amnesty program [Ministry of Interior information] that will allow thousands of illegal immigrants to stay and work in Poland. The new policy will give illegal immigrants who have resided in Poland since December 2007 or longer to apply for residence. Residents who have been denied legal status in the past and ordered deported will have to show they have been in the country without leaving since at least January 1, 2010. Those who are approved will be granted amnesty for two years, during which time they can enter into employment contracts and work to legitimize their stay for longer. The law was passed by the Polish Sejm in July and signed [EUBusiness report] by President Bronislaw Komorowski in August. This is the third amnesty law [DW-World report] of its kind Poland has passed, including one in 2003 and one in 2007. Officials believe this law will be more successful because there are fewer restrictions than in the previous laws.

Amnesty for illegal immigrants continues to be a controversial international issues. In August, US President Barack Obama announced major reforms [JURIST report] to the US's current immigration system, putting 300,000 illegal immigrants' cases up for review and temporarily halting their deportation. Many of the criteria allowing immigrants to stay in this country mirror portions of the US Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act [materials], which has languished in Congress for a decade, and attempts to provide amnesty for illegal immigrants who serve in the military or achieve a college education. Both France and Spain [JURIST reports] have granted amnesty at times, to varying results. Spain was criticized, as EU commissioner complained that its amnesty program contributed to an uptick in illegal immigration between Africa and Europe. The UK rejected an amnesty program [JURIST report] in 2006, and instead focused on a "fair but tough" enforcement of immigration law.

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