Madrid invests EUR2bn to help migrants integrate

19th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

19 February 2007, MADRID - Spain is invest EUR 2 billion in measures to help immigrants to feel they are "part of Spain".

19 February 2007

MADRID - Spain is invest EUR 2 billion in measures to help immigrants to feel they are "part of Spain".

"If there is social cohesion, if the inequality between Spaniards and immigrants is reduced to a minimum, living together will be that much easier," said Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega as she outlined the plan.

Defending the idea of "legal, orderly" immigration, she said that immigrants in Spain have gone from 900,000 in the year 2000 to 3 million at present, which would indicate that foreign workers make up 6 percent of the population.

Moroccans represent the largest single group of foreign-born residents in Spain, followed by Ecuadorians.

The plan, which covers up to the year 2010, is divided into 12 areas: reception, education, jobs, homes, social services, health, infancy and childhood, women, equal treatment, participation, raising awareness and co-development.

Forty percent of the funding will go to education, 20 percent to reception of immigrants, while 11 percent of the total is for employment.

The main objectives are to guarantee the full exercise of the immigrants' civil, social, economic, cultural and political rights and adjust public policies to meet the needs that come with immigration.

Labour minister Jesus Caldera said the initiative originated through a consensus of regional authorities, social organizations and foreigners' associations, which in itself is "a guarantee of success".

The same plan seeks to make sure that public services do not deteriorate, either for the immigrants or for native Spaniards, since the latter should not have to suffer in this respect because of workers coming in from other countries.

The socialist government's immigration policy was criticized by the main opposition, the conservative Popular Party (PP).

PP official Ana Pastor said that Spain's immigration problem is "much worse than 13 years ago, very much worse," as a consequence of the socialist government being in power.

Her criticisms were directed above all at the "massive legalization" of foreigners who have come to Spain illegally and the implied invitation that this and other measures, such as family reunification, send to those planning to emigrate from their own countries to Europe.

Since taking office in April 2004, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has presided over one "massive legalization" of undocumented migrants.

Launched in February 2005, the three-month amnesty process resulted in legalization for 573,270 people, about 70 percent of them from Latin America.

Applicants were required to have lived in Spain for at least six consecutive months prior to the start of the programme.

Some of Spain's neighbors, including France, criticized the broad amnesty, expressing concern that due to the absence of border controls throughout most of the now-27-member European Union member nations, some of those "regularized" in the Iberian nation would spill over into other countries.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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