THE Federation of Immigrants Associations in the Balearics, of which there are 18, have given their support to a non-governmental organisation - SOS Racismo - which has declared its opposition to a European Union directive allowing member States to hold immigrants awaiting expulsion in detention centres for up to a maximum period of 18 months.

The Federation's president, Marlene Perea, asserted yesterday that “the Directive of Shame” - as the EU ordinance has become colloquially known - is essentially “racist” as it “tends to criminalise, punish and control” immigrants.

Perea said that the directive, if anything, intensifies social problems and is “throwing wood onto the fire” of racial antagonism. She claimed that such tensions could result in immigrant communities being targeted violently in public as happened recently when an Ecuadorian girl was attacked on a train in Barcelona.

Perea said she couldn't understand European authorities speaking of “social cohesion” when they appeared to be doing everything to promote the contrary. “Their propositions are in violation of human rights and the EU Constitution,” she said.

The Federation president additionally voiced concern that the directive not only forbids expelled immigrants from returning to any EU country for a period of five years, but that it also allows prisons to be used in the event of a member State not having sufficient detention centres to house immigrants for the “holding” period. This could mean that children could be held under such circumstances.

Meanwhile, however, no concrete action has been planned against the EU directive by the immigrant groups in the Balearics. “People are afraid,” explained Perea. “They believe that any public show of force will just make matters even worse for them.” She said that it's not just an issue which immigrants need to object to but something to which everybody should voice opposition because it's a question of basic human rights. Information is being sent out over the internet to the maximum number of people to provide information and encourage united opposition.