[Stop-traffic] NEWS/SPAIN: MIGRANTS TRY TO FIGHT EXPULSION.

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] NEWS/SPAIN: MIGRANTS TRY TO FIGHT EXPULSION.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Mon Jan 29 2001 - 09:53:54 EST


24/Jan/01 SPAIN: MIGRANTS TRY TO FIGHT EXPULSION.
By Owen Bowcott in Algeciras.
Owen Bowcott in Algeciras
Immigrants from Morocco, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Pakistan
staged sit-ins and protests across Spain yesterday against a law that
could, if the authorities press on with enforcement, lead to the expulsion
of 60,000 or more people who entered the country illegally.
As the stringent rules came into force yesterday, thousands of unregistered
foreigners queued at government offices in a last-minute bid to get work
and residency papers allowing them to stay.
The conservative Spanish prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, has pledged to
tackle the rise in illegal immigration following last year's race riots in
the south-eastern town of El Ejido, near Almeria. `To give the same rights
to both legal and illegal immigrants, that is something unthinkable,' Mr
Aznar has warned.
Hundreds of clandestinos, paying up to #1,000 a head, cross the busy
shipping lanes of the Straitof Gibraltar every week. Many drown when their
overladen vessels capsize or are involved in collisions.
Those who make it from Morocco head for northern cities such as Barcelona
or for the south-eastern vegetable and fruit farms which rely on cheap
labour.
There are tens of thousands of Ecuadorians working on farms in Murcia,
Lorca and Almeria. Chanting `We are not illegals, we are people', they
staged protests across the region. Some wore white bands demanding papers
to norm alise their status, others called for the right to work.
In Barcelona, 300 immigrants, mainly Pakistanis and a few Bangladeshis and
Senegalese, locked themselves inside the Santa Maria Pi church in the old
city and announced plans to stage a hunger strike. `Papers for All,' their
banners declared.
In the Spanish-run north African enclave of Melilla, hundreds of Pakistanis
who had arrived via north Africa, joined in the demonstrations.
More than 60,000 people whose residency or work permit applications were
turned down last year now face deportation. They include immigrants from as
far afield as China, Argentina, Mauritania Ukraine and Nigeria. As well as
streamlining procedures to expel illegal immigrants, the new law curbs
their rights to join in protests and strikes.
No one knows how many foreign workers will be affected by tightening the
rules. One charity suggested yesterday that there could be as many as
300,000 illegal immigrants in Spain.
The cost of detaining and subsequently deporting those deemed illegal is
expected to be high - one estimate suggests it will cost #300,000 simply to
repatriate the 4,426 Ecuadorians whose applications have already been
denied.
Mr Aznar admits that Spain needs foreign workers, but the rate of arrivals
has disconcerted many Spaniards despite only around 2% of the official
population hailing from abroad: in Germany, as many as 12% were born
abroad.
GUARDIAN 24/01/2001 P14
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