Thursday, June 18, 2009

When Hospitality Can Become A Crime

Whilst the immigrant whose appalling treatment at the hands of a Gandia bakery owner looks like he will get his residence papers as a consequence of the publicity the case received, many others will continue to face an uncertain future. Slowly making its way through the parliamentary process is a reform of the Ley de Extranjeria, the law that controls immigration in Spain.

The initial draft of this law contained a shocking proposal that would make the act of hospitality towards an illegal immigrant an offence on the same level as that of the employer who exploits the situation of the sin papeles by not giving them a contract or paying social security. Showing hospitality could result in a fine as high as 10,000 euros. This proposal rightly provoked a significant protest, very well expressed in this article from El País by Soledad Gallego-Díaz. As a result of the protests it looks as if this clause may not make it into the final version of the law, but you can't help wondering about the mindset of the people who come up with such proposals in the first place. A Berlusconi would be very happy with the notion that those who offer assistance to illegal immigrants can be treated so harshly.

The same law looks likely to maintain an extension to the maximum time during which the illegals can be held in detention centres awaiting probable deportation. When the Spanish government supported the European move to prolong detention times, they then sent envoys to Latin America to placate those countries protesting at the measure. We may have supported the change, but we won't implement it in Spain was the reassuring message delivered. Yet here it is, a 50% increase in the maximum detention time. Yet all of this is happening when the signs are that the economic crisis has effectively put an end to recent trends in immigration. The Canary Islands recently went two months without a single boatload of immigrant hopefuls arriving from the African coast.

No comments: