The Czech Foreign Police and Immigration: An Interview with the Director of Czech Foreigners Police Department Colonel Vladislav Husak
Sedlak, Lubomir, The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs
Some time ago, the Czech press published a report which estimated that the number of people staying in the Czech Republic without a permission is approximately the same as those who are here legally. Do you agree?
I cannot very well agree or disagree; we simply do not know how many illegal immigrants there are here. As of the 1st of January 2008 when the country joined the Schengen Agreement, we basically stopped controlling the frontiers and therefore cannot keep count of illegal immigrants. Checks are now done elsewhere in regions of Europe where the Schengen area borders the rest of the continent, for instance, between Slovakia and Ukraine.
This, incidentally, is also why in 2008 the word "border" was dropped from the official name of the Czech Foreigners Police Force. The truth is, on the other hand, that we still continue to look for anyone who doesn't have the right to be here; my people simply moved some twenty to thirty kilometres away from the frontiers into the country's interior.
Anyway, as I already said, we have no idea how many illegal foreigners are in the Czech Republic. The only thing we do know is how many illegal residents we find during our various checks: in 2008, for instance, we identified 3,661 illegal immigrants. In the past few years, this number has more or less stagnated. In other words, it has neither risen nor fallen.
I would like to point out in this context that the typical illegal immigrant we deal with is not someone who has arrived without permission and wants to stay here, but someone who was actually in possession of legal documentation which is now no longer valid and he or she should have thus left the country.
From which countries are the persons without valid permits primarily from (whether they have initially held one or not)?
In 2008, Ukrainians were by far most frequent perpetrators of illegally living in the country. We found 1,547 of them or more than forty-two percent of the total. Vietnamese immigrants came in second at 316, followed by 269 Mongolians, 232 Slovaks and 190 Russians.
At present, how many foreigners are legally living in the Czech Republic?
Their number is currently 480,000. 170,000 have a permanent residence permit and the remaining 310,000 hold a temporary or long-term one.
The local media recently reported a case of four people who were detained by the police in the western Bohemian town of Cheb for arranging a fake marriage between a foreigner and a Czech citizen in order for the foreigner to obtain a residence permit. Does this happen often?
Yes, lately this has indeed become quite frequent. Last year alone, we had 24 such cases. It is more common by the way to find a Czech women pretending to marry a foreign man than vice-versa. The truth is that for two years following the respective wedding, we are allowed under current legislation to check and control whether the two really live together. While actually entering their household would be rather complicated, we can inquire at the door after ringing the bell. Incidentally, another 26 cases in 2008 involved a situation in which a local female claimed a foreigner was the father of her child; this is another way one might try to legalise a stay in the country.
The Foreign Police's website informs about a young Ukrainian woman who had managed to stay in the Czech Republic illegally for seven months before she was caught. Where do you usually come across foreigners who do not have a permit to stay here?
The checks we make are undertaken anywhere really, although they occur most frequently at workers' dormitories, market places and various means of transport. We are quite mobile because we often operate in what are called Schengen buses. These buses have all the necessary databases, such as a pan-European one with some twenty million inputs, as well as other information technology.
Several years ago, a representative of the Czech construction industry's trade union organisation called for the establishment of a special police force that would control worksites for illegal workers. …