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News Theme, The immigration crisis

Reports, almost daily, of open boats known variously as pateras (coming from Marrocco or Algeria) or larger cayucos (reaching the Canary islands from further south), combine with stories of illegal 'paperless' immigrants attempting to cross the fences at Ceuta and Melilla. Add to these high profile stories the situation of hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans and Romanians, not to mention Asians and you have the appearance of a significant immigration crisis. Throw in the confusion and disagreement of politicians as to how to deal with the phenomenon and you have a real crisis, now doubly significant as the jobs they are hoping for have dried up.

Whether the crisis is seen in cases of deaths in the attempt to reach Europe or simply politicians arguing in the Cortes, the problem lies firstly in the suddenness of the phenomenon of immigration - just a decade since it really began and five years since it began to be noticed. Secondly, Spaniards have for many years been emigrants. In the time of the empire they went as masters, but then lean years followed and the 19th and 20th centuries were a time of mass migration from Spain to Latin America in search of work. Later, Europe also received many Spanish migrants. Thus there are many alive who spent some of their life working abroad. Now that Spain has an ageing population and needs extra labourers, migrants are in principle welcome -or would be were it not for the current crisis. The main problem is how to deal with the immense flow of illegals. And thus the political arguments -over both immigration in general and illegals in particular- continue while migrants try their luck. During 2008 some 2,900 migrants are believed to have died attempting to reach Spain, according to the Andalusian human rights group APDHA, while almost 15,600 made it. The news resumé will be found full of examples of the latest events, while occasionally there is a more in depth article on this page.

In September, 2009, the labour minister announced that some 10,000 migrants had taken advantage of a special offer to return home, expenses paid, taking with them a lump sum in place of their unemployment benefit during the first year of the scheme. Immigrants have taken the brunt of the lay-offs during the credit crunch and the related building crash.

Look also at the background comment page.

Full circle! The BBC comments (end June '09) on the departure of many migrants.

BBC in depth report on Muslims in Europe
Some of the 30.000 arrivals in the Canaries in 2006 are sent home - BBC.
BBC Panorama programme 'Destination Europe'
Spanish couple relate their experience to BBC of corpses washing up on beach.
A Morroccan relates shattered dreams of life on the Costas.
BBC pictures of Civil Guard patrol