Greek police detained more than 6,000 suspected illegal migrants in Athens over the weekend, the Associated Press reported. Greece is the main entry point into Europe for African and Asian illegal migrants.
Police announced Monday that 1,600 detainees will be deported back to their countries and are waiting in temporary detention centers. The other 4,400 were released.
Greek authorities estimate that about 100,000 illegal migrants enter Greece each year. They mostly enter from Turkey, a major trafficking hub, and continue to Western Europe via the Balkans. Many immigrants passing through Greece are detected when entering Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Those who make it to Western Europe often become victims of labor exploitation.
The collapse of the Greek economy has fueled racist violence against immigrants – both legal and illegal immigrants – as some believe they are taking away jobs and resources, such as medical supplies and hospital beds, from the “real Greeks.”
Greek police claim the influx of immigrants coincides with a spike in crimes. Close to 4,500 police officers participated in the weekend raids.