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Advocates Want Changes To Immigration Law
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 4, 2004

DUBLIN, IRELAND--The Irish Parliament was expected to pass a new immigration law Wednesday night, despite criticism from disability rights groups.

The first draft of the proposed law allowed immigration officials to deny entry to any individual who exhibits a "mental disorder". After critics compared the measure to those written by Nazi Germany, the bill was rewritten to allow officials to exclude admission to people who have "profound mental disturbance" and showing signs of psychosis with agitation, delirium, hallucinations or confusion.

Advocates said the amended version did not go far enough, claiming that it would allow the government to discriminate against people that have disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome.

Amnesty International, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Irish Refugee Council, the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Schizophrenia Association of Ireland have all spoken out against the measure and have called for further discussion.

Opposition parties, including the Labour Party, the Green Party and Sinn Fein also objected to the proposed law.

The groups criticized Justice Minister Michael McDowell for trying to rush the law through Parliament without allowing for adequate debate on the issues.

Mr. McDowell said the law was intended to assure the safety of Irish citizens and control the movement of international terrorists.

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