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Illegal immigration in Egypt: economic effects and ways to reduce its aggravation

Illegal immigration is considered one of the issues that continues to trouble the international community, especially in light of international and regional transformations. It is a very sensitive problem because it affects all segments of society, so that the phenomenon has become not limited to young people, but has extended to entire families of children and women, in addition to being a multiple phenomenon. Dimensions where economic, political, social and demographic factors contribute.

Illegal immigration is a global phenomenon that exists in developed and developing countries, and represents a threat to many of them because the resulting disturbances lead to compromising the economic, social and cultural privacy of these countries, and constitute a threat to their national security and their economic, social and political interests, even if the numbers of illegal immigrants on their lands diminish.

Egypt is one of the countries suffering from this phenomenon as a source and receiving country for illegal immigrants as well as being a transit country, so the strategic forum for public policies and Development Studies “Deraya ” issues a research paper highlighting its various dimensions through the following axes:

First: The reality of illegal immigration in Egypt

Second: The economic factors driving illegal immigration

Third: The negative economic effects of illegal immigration

Fourth: Measures taken by Egypt to reduce illegal immigration

Fifth: Ways to reduce the negative economic impacts of illegal immigration

Sixth: Recommendations

The most important findings of the paper are as follows:-

– Egypt, as a country of destination, transit and departure, has been exposed to waves of illegal immigration, as a result of the increasing political instability and civil wars on the African continent, and the situation witnessed by the Arab world of revolutions and divisions.

– Egypt hosts about 9 million refugees and migrants from more than 58 different nationalities, who enjoy various basic services.

– The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt reached about 259.3 thousand refugees and asylum seekers in 2020.

Pressure on public utilities, loss of jobs for citizens, loss of tax revenues are the most prominent negative consequences of illegal immigration.

– Egypt has become a successful international model in the fight against illegal migration and in supporting refugees, amid international praise for the treatment of the Egyptian state.

– The Egyptian state has taken many security and legislative measures to protect its youth from death boat trips, and job opportunities through national projects have contributed to eliminating the phenomenon of illegal migration.

First: The reality of illegal immigration in Egypt

Egypt has three communities abroad, represented by ancient migration to Europe and America and temporary migration, where the number of expatriate Egyptians residing in non-Arab countries, such as Italy, the United States of America, Canada, Australia and Greece, is estimated at three million Egyptians. Or labor migration, represented in the Gulf, where official estimates indicate that more than six million Egyptians reside in the GCC countries, and the third migration that appeared in the nineties, represented by irregular

It should be noted that about 90% of Egyptian immigrants return to Egypt after a while because their main goal is to search for a better job opportunity, and the state and international organizations play an important role in reducing the phenomenon of irregular migration because it cannot be eliminated by 100%.

The geographical location of Egypt and the political situation witnessed by a number of countries in the region have contributed to the transformation of Egypt into a transit and destination country for refugees .Egypt hosts about 9 million refugees and migrants from more than 58 different nationalities, including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and sub-Saharan African countries. the vast majority of them live in urban areas in Greater Cairo and Alexandria and enjoy various basic services

The previous figure shows that the number of refugees and asylum seekers in 2020 amounted to about 259.3 thousand, compared to 258.4 thousand in 2019, 246.7 thousand in 2018, 232.6 thousand in 2017, 213.5 thousand in 2016, 212.5 thousand in 2015, and 236 1 thousand in 2014, 230.1 thousand in 2013, 109.9 thousand in 2012, and 95.1 thousand in 2011.

Second: The economic factors driving illegal immigration

1- Population explosion: Population growth that exceeds the carrying capacity of the region or environment leads to population explosion. Population explosion and its consequences are considered a greater problem in developing countries.

2- Family reunification: Some illegal immigrants seek to live with relatives who live in a country they are not allowed to enter, such as a husband/wife or other family members.

3- Education: Families want to ensure a better education for their children.

4- The search for livelihood: It is one of the first and most important motives, as it leads immigrants to leave their homelands and migrate to any of the countries in which they find work opportunities to earn a living.

5-the societal transformations that most of the developing world countries are going through specifically, as these transformations carry increasing economic and social bottlenecks, escalating inflationary pressures, a low standard of living, and worsening crises in the areas of housing and utilities; Therefore, migration for work has become a necessary process

6-The high price of entry visas for some developed countries in particular. Therefore, some young people resort to the services of people called smuggling intermediaries, who facilitate the entry of migrants and their crossing of the border.

7- The lack and scarcity of labor in some countries: This is often due to the expansion of the areas of these countries and their location on a large geographical area, and in return, they suffer from a lack of population density. This causes a severe shortage of labor, which is offset by a high level of wages. These countries become a destination for any immigrant.

8-The policies and laws of the governments of countries that limit and prevent their citizens from immigrating outside their countries; This forces them to resort to illegal immigration.

Egypt has been exposed to waves of illegal immigration, as a result of the increasing state of political instability and civil wars on the African continent, and the state of revolutions and divisions witnessed in the Arab world and the increase in ethnic and sectarian armed conflicts, especially in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen on the one hand, and the deteriorating economic conditions of most of the countries of the continent African.

Third: The negative economic effects of illegal immigration

There are negative effects of illegal immigration, such as

A- Pressure on public facilities: Illegal immigrants usually use public services such as health facilities, public schools, transportation, and parks, yet they do not pay taxes to build and maintain these facilities.

b-Job loss for citizens: Illegal immigrants are usually willing to work for low wages. They take jobs reserved for locals, which can be frustrating for citizens who cannot find reasonably paying jobs.

c- Loss of tax revenue: Employing illegal immigrants means that the employer gets away without paying the necessary taxes…which can undermine government programs and harm government projects that benefit us all, and this hurts everyone so that a few benefit.

d- The escalation of criminal and terrorist activities: Most illegal immigrants are only looking for work opportunities, but there is a large number of them involved in criminal activities without proper oversight of those who enter a country illegally.

Fourth: Measures taken by Egypt to reduce illegal immigration

During 9 years, the Egyptian state took many measures that enabled it to develop an integrated system to contain illegal immigration and reduce its risks, in an effort to preserve its true wealth of young people. The government enacted some laws, tightened control over airports, ports, and Egyptian borders, and implemented giant projects that accommodate thousands of young people to reduce illegal immigration.

The state’s efforts to combat illegal immigration, in light of its keenness to adhere to international conventions, have resulted in no ship departing to transport illegal immigrants from the Egyptian coast since September 2016. Three files were worked on to combat this type of immigration as follows:

A- The first file: establishing legislative and institutional frameworks

Law No. 82 of 2016 regarding combating illegal immigration and migrant smuggling and its Executive Regulation No. 983 of 2018 came to establish deterrent penalties for this phenomenon by criminalizing all forms of migrant smuggling, which helped law enforcement agencies eliminate smuggling networks.

In April 2022, the President of the Republic issued Law No. 2 of 2022 amending some provisions of the Law on Combating Illegal Immigration and Migrant Smuggling promulgated by Law No. 82 of 2016 in order to combat this phenomenon. The penalty was increased to become aggravated imprisonment for a period of not less than five years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pounds and not more than one million pounds.

The National Strategy to Combat Illegal Immigration (2016/2026) was also launched, which targets the groups most at risk of exploitation by smugglers, namely young people (18-35 years old), children and their families, and those arriving to Egypt illegally. It also seeks to deter and punish immigration brokers and traders through… Strict procedures and penalties.

The government also established a number of bodies concerned with managing the illegal immigration file, the most important of which is the Ministry of State for Immigration and Affairs of Egyptians Abroad, which was created in 2015.

B-The second file: the security

There were infiltration operations taking place across the eastern borders and the western and southern borders, but they stopped thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Interior and the Armed Forces in securing the borders very well. Attempts at illegal immigration of Egyptians and foreigners across the land and sea borders, especially those overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, were thwarted, and immigration brokers were besieged. Illegal workers, who facilitate the crossing of Africans and use Egypt as a transit country.

C- The third file: development efforts

Launching the “Decent Life” initiative to develop the Egyptian countryside to raise the quality of life for citizens in villages that source illegal immigration, as it contributed significantly to eliminating the causes of illegal immigration, by achieving comprehensive community development, as a budget worth one trillion pounds was allocated to the initiative.

2-Developing places and hotspots for illegal immigration, including Kafr El-Sheikh Governorate. The political leadership opened the industrial fish city project in Ghalioun, Kafr El-Sheikh, as the project provides thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities for fishermen and university graduates from the people of Kafr El-Sheikh and its neighboring governorates.

3- Facilitating all marketing procedures for the Small and Micro Enterprise Financing Initiative for Youth, and allocating an amount of 200 billion pounds for its implementation, especially in geographical areas where illegal immigration is widespread.

4- The Ministry of Immigration implemented the presidential initiative “Survival Boats,” which was launched by the President of the Republic as part of the recommendations of the third edition of the World Youth Forum in December 2019. The initiative contributed to raising awareness and training the most targeted groups to introduce them to the dangers of illegal immigration and its safe alternatives, according to a plan drawn up to include 14 governorates. It is one of the governorates most prone to illegal immigration.

Fifth: Ways to reduce the negative economic impacts of illegal immigration

The fight against illegal migration will not only come through awareness-raising processes, but also through the adoption by countries of some measures that contribute to changing the thinking of young people by:

– Increase and support national investment to be able to increase new job opportunities for young people who can completely stop thinking about immigration.

– Improving the health reality by paying attention to the health sector from hospitals and securing trained medical staff, modern devices and all kinds of medicines, and this can limit the migration caused by diseases and epidemics.

– The demand of governments to build housing associations for young people and sell them at affordable prices so that they can get married and start a family, and then stop thinking about immigration.

-Countries monitor their land and sea borders well, and set up military and security barriers in open border areas or on secret passages and crossings taken by people smugglers.

– Taking strict legal measures and deterrent penalties against every illegal immigrant who is arrested, so that the rest of the young people who want to do this type of immigration know their fate.

– The governments of the countries of immigration to spread awareness among their citizens and ask them to help their governments by refraining from hiring any person from outside the country who does not have a legal entry visa and immediately inform the authorities of the country about it.

– Allowing citizens to engage in the political situation and express their opinions without intimidation or intimidation.

-Providing suitable jobs and jobs for young graduates with wages commensurate with their fatigue, qualifications and the living situation of the country.

– Consolidate the idea of the motherland and strengthen their attachment to it, and provide intellectual, material and psychological comfort to increase and strengthen this attachment and refuse to abandon it and emigrate from it.

– Achieving the principle of equal opportunities, justice, equality and job descriptions, and providing the simplest rights and privileges for young people to support, assist and encourage them to work effectively, such as providing transportation, health insurance, appropriate wages, comfortable and healthy work environment, and others.

Sixth: recommendations

The Egyptian state has succeeded in managing the illegal immigration file and addressing this dangerous phenomenon over the past nine years, perhaps the most important of which are the following:

– Strengthening the spirit of belonging among young people, instilling the value of patriotism, motivating them to participate in political life

– Employing the religious dimension to raise awareness of the dangers of migration, and activating the role of religious institutions.

– Activating and increasing the role of civil society organizations in addressing the phenomenon of illegal migration, through direct contact with Target groups in the most exporting governorates of illegal migration, and clarifying the risks and alternatives.

– Increase investment in education in the provinces that are the source of illegal immigration, and pay attention to high-quality technical education.

– Highlighting the consequences of illegal immigration through educational courses and programs in schools and universities.

– The direction and support of production projects because they absorb a lot of manpower, and this is next to the giant national projects that Egypt is implementing now.

– Encouraging the private sector to support activities to combat illegal migration.

– Intensification of the media processing of the illegal immigration file.

– Investing and strengthening international and regional cooperation in the field of combating illegal migration

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