Deportation (stock)

Malta archbishop fights for expat children set to be deported by Christmas

An archbishop and a well-known tenor are just two of the Maltese people fighting for the 22 children of non-EU expatriate workers set to be deported in the lead-up to Christmas.

Driving the news

“I appeal to all parishes, religious congregations and all Catholic groups and societies to consider ‘adopting’ one or more of these kids by guaranteeing their funding, if need be”, Archbishop Charles Scicluna tweeted December 15.

“Anybody wanting to donate to help with the situation of the 22 Migrant Kids may direct donations to Caritas Malta specifying ‘The 22 Migrant Kids'”, the prelate added.

Scicluna was referring to the decision of government body Identity Malta to deny residency permits to the nearly two dozen minors because their parents supposedly don’t earn enough money to maintain them in the country.

According to Identity Malta policy, third-country nationals in the country must earn 19,000 euros a year – plus 3,800 euros per extra child – excluding bonuses or overtime.

Go deeper

The families affected are mostly Serbian citizens, the Sunday Times of Malta reported.

Those families were angry at the Identity Malta policy not being waived in cases in which the salary threshold was not met, on occasions, by as little as 143 euros.

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The families are also furious at not being permitted to even appeal the agency decision, especially after years of living and working in Malta legally.

“My wife [and I] are legal employees”, affected parent Vladica and Dragana Popovic complained.

“We are paying all taxes and contributions according to Malta laws. My kids started school, are learning Maltese and making new friendships. What to do now?

“It’s Christmas time, this should be nicest part of year for our families. I think that no one deserves this”.

Why it matters

“At face value, this is utterly ridiculous. I am ready to contribute to make solve this (seemingly) bureaucratic issue – who is joining me?”, commented on Twitter tenor Joseph Calleja.

Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola blasted embattled Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for his “shameless” deporting of the children.

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“In one of his last acts in politics, disgraced Joseph Muscat, gives up on his ridiculous charade of pretending to be “progessive” & tries to throw 22 children out of Malta, days before Christmas, because they can’t yet afford the price he sets for one of our passports. Shameless”, Metsola tweeted.

For the record

Director of Church aid group Caritas, Anthony Gatt, also described the children’s situation as shameful.

“First parents with these kids are allowed to settle to contribute to our economy and then (they are) asked to leave or to separate themselves from their children because we only want what they can give us”, Gatt wrote in a Facebook post.

“It is true that Malta is overpopulated and this is putting pressure on our infrastructure but it is inhumane to allow a family to settle only to reject a few years down the line.

“If the policy must be adhered to, it needs to be asserted with new foreign workers/entrants.

“We used to be known for being a hospitable nation with a soul”.

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