illegal workers Luxembourg

Illegal Immigrants

in Luxembourg




legal minimum persecution
permit nervous country (2)
face (3) check (2) interest (3)
tense employee unemployed
employ employer break the law
cheap private (2) break/broke/broken
wage contribute grace period
source force (2) pay/paid/paid
offer crack (2) crack down on
ethnic grace (2) come forward (2)
fear confident prosecution
barrier normalize make/made/made
receive applicant give/gave/given
eligible condition current (3)
at least out myself association
hope depend on immune (2)
advice obstacle put/put/put
aid penalty put it in writing
criteria persuade authorities
cheat back me up do/did/done
stiff (2) chance (2) steal/stole/stolen
scared cooperate I can tell (2)
illegal papers (2) straighten out
prison skeptical straight (2)
permit in order requirement
support define (2) condition (2)
fulfill try/tried know/knew/known
deport situation take/took/taken
aware residence understand/understood/understood
status relatively take a chance
willing public (2) find/found/found (2)







Danka works ten hours a week as a cleaner in this Luxembourg home — illegally. An ethnic Serb from Kosovo, she’s been in the country for three years. But she doesn’t have a work permit.

Danka, Illegal Immigrant: “I feel very nervous in public; they could ask to see my papers, for example on the bus when the tickets are checked. The police checked the trains often. When I go shopping in the city, I’m very tense.”

Danka’s employer Alexandra also has reason to be nervous: the Luxembourger is friends with Danka . . . but by employing her as a cleaning lady, she’s breaking the law.

Alexandra says she’s hardly alone.

Alexandra, Luxembourger Employer: “Many people are working illegally, from cleaners in private homes to hotel and restaurant workers here in Luxembourg. They’re a very large part of our economy and contribute to the wealth of our society, here in the city.”

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In a rich country like Luxembourg, illegal immigrants are a cheap source of labor. Paying workers the minimum wage of nearly 1,900 euros a month is just too much for many.

But an EU law is forcing the country to crack down on illegal work. The government is offering a grace period until the end of February. Illegal workers can come forward together with their employers without fear of prosecution.

Nicolas Schmit, Labor, Employment and Immigration Minister, Luxembourg: “We’re actually offering companies a chance to normalize themselves; to make themselves legal by giving the people currently working there illegally normal employment contracts, under the same conditions others receive.”

To be eligible, applicants must have been working illegally in Luxembourg for at least nine months, received the minimum wage and worked 40 hours a week. The barrier is so high that many don’t want to out themselves.

Alexandra, Luxembourger Employer: “During these two months the employers are immune to prosecution. I hope we can depend on that. The ministry has also put it in writing, and I really hope I can depend on it.”

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Alexandra and her cleaning lady Danka get advice at the independent immigrants aid organization ASTI. The 40-hour week requirement is an obstacle.

Legally, Alexandra can only pay her help for 10 hours, so Danka has to persuade her other employers to back her up with the authorities. It won’t be easy, but she’s got to try.

Danka, Illegal Immigrant: “I don’t have any problem coming clean with the government. I’ve never stolen or cheated or done anything wrong. I’ve always worked. I just want to be legal like any other normal person.”

Laura Zuccoli, ASTI (Association for the Support of Immigrant Workers): “We can tell when the employers cooperate. When they call here and want to get everything straightened out, then the immigrants are much more confident.

But, if they work for employers who are more skeptical or who really have no interest in legalizing them, then the immigrants are very scared.”

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They have good reason to be scared: they’ll only have a chance at a residence permit if all their papers are in order — if not they face stiff penalties.

Nicolas Schmit, Luxembourg Labor Minister: “We’ve defined the conditions very clearly so people will know if they fulfilled the criteria or not. If they don’t fulfill the criteria, of course they’ll be facing a situation where they can be deported. They should be aware of that.”

Danka might have to return to Kosovo and her employer could face up to a year in prison. They can’t understand why the state would put them in such a difficult situation.

Danka, Illegal Immigrant: “I want to finally get a residence permit. I just want to be able to live in Luxembourg normally and sleep in peace.”

Danka is among the relatively few with a chance at legalizing her status. If she doesn’t, she’ll find in the future most employers in Luxembourg will be unwilling to take the chance.

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Belgium. Danka can freely travel around, move to, live and work in any European Union country. True or false?

The Netherlands. Does Danka feel completely at ease and at home in Luxembourg because she is a White, European person?

France. Are Danka and her employer, Alexandra, in a unique situation? Are they rare case in Luxembourg? Do the vast majority of migrant there work as IT specialists, engineers and scientists?

Germany. The illegal migrants contribute greatly to the local economy. Is this right or wrong? Why do locals and local businesses employ undocumented workers?

United Kingdom. Is the government lenient towards illegal migrants, strict or in the middle? Is this changing?

Austria. The requirements for achieving legal status are simple. Is this correct or incorrect? What is Danka’s main problem?

Ireland. Is applying for legal residency risky or without risk?

Switzerland. Does Danka aspire to be involved in racketeering, money laundering, drug smuggling or human trafficking?
Denmark. There are (many) undocumented immigrants in my city and country. Yes or no? If yes, who are they? Where are they from? What do they do?

Spain. Do people from your nation live and work abroad (illegally)?

Portugal. Why do migrants live and work in other countries? Why do employers employ them?

Italy. Do (illegal) immigrants form an integral part of the economy and people’s daily lives? What would happen if (all) illegal workers were deported?

Norway. Is there a lot of controversy, debate and arguments regarding undocumented migration and immigration in general?

Sweden. What might happen in the future?

Finland. What should governments, migrants, their employers and ordinary citizens do?

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