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Survey reveals views on immigration

25 January 2008

MADRID – What do Spaniards think of immigrants? And what do immigrants think of themselves? The Madrid regional government has attempted to answer those two questions with a survey of 1,200 people conducted in October and presented last week by Fernández Lasquetty, the head of the regional immigration department. The response from the 800 Spaniards and 400 foreigners to the different questions about the effects of immigration was mixed, although Lasquetty noted that Madrileños have a favourable attitude toward immigrants.

Though both foreigners and natives accept that rising immigration is associated with increasing crime, they also note that the influx of immigrants, who now make up more than a fifth of the population in and around the capital, is positive for the economy. They acknowledge, for example, that immigrants take jobs in sectors that would otherwise suffer from labour shortages. However, there are some big differences in views. Notably, half of the Spanish respondents said that immigrants are only slightly integrated into Spanish society or not at all. Only 20 percent of immigrants said the same.

Lasquetty, a member of the Popular Party, nonetheless called the overall picture "positive," before seizing the opportunity to lash out at the Socialist central government’s immigration policy.

"Foreign criminals are not immigrants, but rather people who come to Spain attracted by soft laws that don’t exist in other countries and that have been introduced by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero," Lasquetty said. He noted that Zapatero had rejected a PP proposal to deport immigrants convicted of committing a crime.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / Patricia Ortega Dolz 2008]

Subject: Spanish news