Friday, February 04, 2005

SPAIN'S AMNESTY for illegal immigrants alarms Europe, the Financial Times writes:
Spain is about to embark on the biggestever amnesty for illegal immigrants in Europe, with consequences that will be felt far beyond its borders.

From Monday, foreigners who can produce a job contract and proof that they have resided in Spain for more than six months will be given one-year residence and work permits.

The amnesty is expected to benefit between 800,000 and 1m immigrants who work in the underground economy - about 6 per cent of the labour force.

The aim is to clamp down on the exploitation of migrant labour - particularly in agriculture, domestic service and construction - as well as to increase tax and social security revenues.

[...] But the amnesty is attracting a flood of would-be immigrants hoping to cash in on Spain's liberal immigration rules. Police on the Spanish border with France say they are turning back bus loads of Romanians and Bulgarians every day.

"They all have fake addresses in Spain, dated back six months, and they are coming in search of jobs," say the police, who last month turned back 10,000 suspected immigrants trying to cross the Pyrénées.

Madrid's immigration amnesty has raised alarm in other European capitals. Spain last year accounted for one-third of net migration into the European Union. For Africans who attempt the perilous 90-mile crossing to the Canary Islands, or brave the currents in the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain is an easy port of entry for travelling further north into Europe.

At a meeting in Brussels last weekend, German and Dutch officials told Consuelo Rumi, Spain's immigration minister, they were worried about the effects of the country's immigrant-friendly policies on Europe as a whole.

"This legalisation process will have consequences for the rest [of Europe] because immigrants will then be able to move on freely to France and Germany," says Otto Schily, German interior minister. Rita Verdonk, Dutch immigration minister, urges Spain to co-ordinate its policies with other EU states.
(via HispaLibertas)