Valencia revives PP's immigrant integration plan
Initiative will force immigrants to sign integration contract and is likely to put regional authority on collision course with Madrid29 April 2008
MADRID - The conservative regional government of Valencia unveiled plans Monday to force immigrants to sign an "integration contract" that would oblige them to respect local "customs and traditions" in a controversial step that drew an immediate rebuke from immigrant rights groups and Spain's governing Socialist Party.
The move, announced by Rafael Blasco, head of the regional immigration department, echoes hard-line immigration proposals tabled by the Popular Party's national leader, Mariano Rajoy, during its unsuccessful campaign for the 9 March general election.
The contract, Blasco said, would require immigrants to "respect the law and Spanish and Valencian principles, customs and traditions." He did not specify what "customs and traditions" immigrants would be expected to respect. Neither did he say what fate would befall immigrants who failed to comply.
Valencia lacks responsibility over immigration affairs, which are handled solely and exclusively by the Spanish state. The initiative is therefore likely to put the region on a collision course with the Socialist government.
"It's an outrage," Nuria Espí, a Socialist lawmaker in Valencia, said yesterday. "The PP is trying to apply in [Valencia] what voters rejected in the general election."
With the sudden end to the housing boom in Spain, and especially the Mediterranean area, many immigrants, who make up 14 percent of Valencia's population, are finding themselves out of work.
There are signs that immigration is becoming an increasingly prominent issue in other areas of Spain as well. On Monday, Catalonia's Socialist-led regional government announced plans to cap the number of places for non-native children at public and private schools, ostensibly to prevent "ghettos" from forming.
[El Pais / A. Eatwell / Expatica]