Spain has said that it will not longer turn back boats carrying would be immigrants from Africa and will offer work permits to immigrants who have a contract. Guardian UK
“We are sorting out these problems despite a lack of leadership from the EU and the international community,” she said. “Spain is already leading the debate over common entry criteria and the social integration of immigrants.”
Sounds wonderful on paper. But there are a number of problems. First of all why should Spain be doing this at this time.
The minister added that it was too early to say how many people would be affected by the change in rules. But she warned that the initiative would not change the situation for those who had just arrived in the country.
The new ruling socialist party, PSOE has made a complete break from the former right wing government of Aznar, the PP. Spain’s new policy is going to be controversial within the European Union as it is the only country adopting this new approach to would be immigrants and those already in the country.
The cost of patrolling the seas around the coast of Spain is of course expensive. The huge agri-industry of southern Spain particularly Andalucia would not cope without the cheap labour of African immigrants. The “plasticos” of Almeria feed most of northern Europe and again without the cheap labour, fruit and vegetables would be far more expensive than they are. Thirdly there are now so many immigrants from North and West Africa that it is prudent for the Spanish govenrment to begin to recognise them as a genuine minority with rights like the rest of Spain’s inhabitants. Spain is a very racist country where restuarants and shops can refused entry to Black people without facing any penality. This whole summer I have had a series of house guests including 2 groups of 3 children at different times, one group white and one group black. The Black kids were harassed in the municiple pool at various times by other children, making monkey noises a and pulling faces. It was very unpleasant but had to be dealt with.
With regard to offering work permits, how will it be possible for an illegal immigrant who has no contract of employment to get one? One of the benefits of hiring immigrants is that you don’t need to set up a contract.
Spain is a member of the EU and therefore cannot adopt a go it alone policy on immigration. For one thing if they change their laws then this may impact on other EU countries who may not wish to adopt the same policy.
It will be interesting to see how this one plays out and the final reality of any changes in Spain’s immigration policy or attitude towards foreign workers. One final point that many Spanish people I have spoken to miss. In the 40’s through until the 70’s many Andalucians did the very same work in France picking fruit (mostly grapes) as Africans are doing in Spain today. It is with the money they saved from this work that enabled them to return to their native villages and buy land, build houses, start business. They however have forgotten this aspect of their history.