Crackdown after liberal immigration amnesty

9th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 May 2005, MADRID — The Spanish government hailed its three-month immigration amnesty a success after 700,000 people applied for legal status.

9 May 2005

MADRID — The Spanish government hailed its three-month immigration amnesty a success after 700,000 people applied for legal status.

The most liberal programme of its kind in Europe, the amnesty  offered legal status to illegal immigrants in order to get them to pay taxes and take them out of Spain's huge 'black' economy.

But the government is expected to follow the programme with a crackdown on illegal workers.

Labour minister Jesus Caldera said: "The scheme has been a great success."

Caldera claimed around 90 percent of the 'black economy' would be drawn into the legal economy thanks to the amnesty.

Secretary of state for immigration Consuelo Rumi said last week those immigrants who applied for legal status "will pay taxes and contribute towards social security". But he rejected calls by some pressure groups for the plan to be extended.

He said there had been enough time to deal with the 672,347 demands for papers which had come in before Saturday, when the amnesty ended.

Caldera, who Friday had put at 800,000 the maximum number of immigrants who would be able to get papers under the amnesty, said 39,953 requests had been lodged on Saturday.

But in many major cities, including Madrid, even by the end of the afternoon the queues of previous days had reduced to a trickle.

Caldera said he estimated that non-working partners and dependents of those who obtain papers will number some 400,000 and that the government would seek to repatriate around 150,000 immigrants who had not joined the scheme.

But Ana Pastor, of the conservative opposition Popular Party, claimed the scheme had been exploited by illegal immigrants from across Europe. She said it would also raise crime levels in Spain.

Under the terms of the deal, immigrants will only benefit if they have work contracts and had been living in the country at least six months before the programme took effect.

They had to prove they were registered with a local council prior to 7 August last year, show they have no criminal record and possess at least a six-month work contract.

In the north-eastern city of Barcelona, Enrique Mosquera, spokesman for the Assembly for the Unconditional Regularisation of those without papers, said around 120 people who do not meet the plan's employment and residency requirements had embarked on a protest hunger strike.

Also in Barcelona, Hakim, a Pakistani aged around 30, was reluctant to heed advice to join a queue in another office.

"We're used to them telling us one thing and then another," said Hakim, employed in Spain's booming construction sector. "If I get the papers I'll no longer work for EUR 600 a month but get a job from eight in the morning to six in the afternoon," he

Official figures put the total of unregistered non-Spanish nationals based in Spain at 1.7 million.

Most of those who have applied are Ecuadorians (24.5 percent), Romanians (16.5), Moroccans (11.5) and Colombians (9.5).

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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