Europe plans to accelerate the deportation of tens of thousands of illegal Pakistani migrants in a bid to free up space and resources for refugees with more legitimate asylum requests. Though Europe is justified in doing so, these immigrants who are often supporting multiple family members back home are distraught at the developments and rightly so. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, arrived for a visit to Islamabad, to carry out negotiations between the Pakistani government and EU and smooth out the tensions surrounding the deliberation.

The ongoing refugee crisis and the recent Paris attacks have prompted several European Union countries to call for stricter regulation of illegal immigrants. Although Syrians and Afghans make up the bulk of the most recent arrivals, Pakistanis also have been seeking asylum in Europe. They are adding to the strain as Europe struggles to cope with the 760,000 migrants who have arrived this year.

European Union nations signed the accord with Islamabad in 2009 allowing them to repatriate illegal Pakistani immigrants and other nationalities who transited through Pakistan on their way to Europe. But as the Pakistan government is becoming relatively stable and the danger of Islamist militancy is diminishing here, fewer than 20 percent of Pakistanis are granted asylum in Europe if they arrive illegally.

Pakistanis fleeing the country, unless a part of religious minorities under immediate threat, do not qualify for the status of political asylum anymore. Even before this year’s refugee crisis, about 168,000 illegal Pakistani migrants were ordered to leave countries in the 28-member European Union between 2008 and 2014, according to Eurostat.

Last week, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said Pakistani airlines would no longer cooperate in repatriating deportees. It was alleged by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan that E.U. states were not confirming the nationalities of those being deported and some Pakistanis were being deported on false suspicions that they had connections to terrorist groups. This is not surprising in the least considering the backlash that the Asian and Muslim community is facing in the aftermath of the attacks in Europe.

European countries admit about 50,000 Pakistanis annually for family reunification, guest-worker programs, higher education and other residency requests. People applying for these positions can take heart as it was made clear that legal means of entering these countries will not be rejected on baseless grounds. Despite all the assurances made by the EU officials, sadly it is common knowledge that the green passport itself is more often than not, ground for rejection of legitimate applications. Hopefully the plight of these immigrants will resolve in an acceptable manner.