Friday, January 22, 2010

Vic Changes Course, Torrejón Still Discriminates

The administration of the town of Vic has announced that they are withdrawing the plan to deny illegal immigrants the right to register as residents on the local padrón. This turnaround has been a result of the massive media attention, the government making it clear that such a policy is not legal, and the pressure put on some of the local councillors by their party leaderships. It has been a depressing episode which has focused huge attention on a supposed "problem" of illegal immigrants precisely at the time when there are fewer arriving in Spain than at any time in years. The whole affair shows that race and immigration don't necessarily become hot political issues because of public concern, illegal immigrants instead make a handy scapegoat for opportunist politicians. The PP's candidate for the elections later this year in Cataluña has quickly made it clear that she intends to use race in an attempt to improve the PP's miserable electoral performance in the region whilst the nationalists of CiU compete with their own proposal to award points for integration. Meanwhile the PP at national level has revived their idea of an integration "contract" that they tried to use to electoral benefit in the last general election.

The change of policy in Vic is not the end of the matter, the town of Torrejón de Ardoz near Madrid maintains their own policy that directly discriminates against immigrants. The insistence by Torrejón's administration that their measure is only aimed at those with tourist visas borders on mendacity. Some people may imagine that the majority of illegal immigrants in Spain have arrived on boats crossing from Africa, but the reality is that far more will have turned up at Barajas airport in Madrid, entering as tourists because no "illegal immigrant" visa exists. Someone who is here as a genuine tourist is unlikely to waste their holiday standing in a queue at the local ayuntamiento. Torrejón has also been using the amount of square metres occupied by each person as a criteria for refusing registration, a policy which it seems was not applied before to Spanish residents but which if it were to be applied generally would count as a direct attack on the poor of all nationalities. It doesn't help the PP's lies in the case of Torrejón that the local party has issued propaganda boasting about how their measures have reduced the number of immigrants living in the town. By displacing them to neighbouring municipalities of course.

José Maria Aznar was sounding off in typical fashion in an interview this morning blaming Zapatero's government for an imagined policy of "papeles para todos" for the problem. In fact the current regulations concerning access to the padrón were drawn up by a certain M. Rajoy who was serving at the time as the minister of public administration in a government led by one J.M. Aznar. It has nothing to do with the regularisation of illegal immigrants carried out by Zapatero's administration. The latter measure was one of the best things that Zapatero's government has done, it gave contracts and rights to hundreds of thousands of illegals whilst ensuring in the process a very healthy boost to the social security fund. Obviously many of the PP's supporters preferred to have a huge source of cheap, insecure labour in the form of the illegal immigrants; a situation that Aznar's administration happily tolerated. Places like Vic, and Almeria where there have also been complaints about immigrants having rights, have done extremely well from the labour of illegal immigrants. If there is any problem with payment for provision of local services then maybe those who pocketed the profits should be asked to make a contribution?

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