Thursday, 3 April 2008
At the main square of Hania (called Plateia 1866) (only a short stroll away from Hania's alluring old harbour where the former mosque is located), you will always find groups of immigrants, always men, just hanging around the square, chatting to each other, doing nothing in particular. They wait here not necessarily because they're loitering; in fact, nobody, neither the shop owners surrounding the square nor the police have ever asked them to move away. Plateia 1866 is a kind of meeting point where they can be picked up by the locals for odd jobs. They even come in droves on Sunday mornings when you'd think it's most unlikely to be picked up for work.
Most locals do village chores on that day, so an extra (cheap) hand comes in useful to clear away pruned olive wood, renovate country houses and do other field work. So it's not surprising that they make themselves visible in the town, since it is highly unlikely that anyone will ask them to move on or demand legal documents proving their right to be here. It's doubtful that most have permits allowing them to live and work legally in Greece; even though many new immigrants who came illegally into the country have since been granted residence rights after the government announced an amnesty a few years ago, people still manage to enter the country illegally. Those with documentation are more likely to be employed in more stable working conditions.