April 15, 2021

Annus horribilis for immigration, despite being an “imperative” need

Although it has become an “imperative necessity”, 2019 will go down in history for being the “annus horribilis” for immigration with the rise of governments and populist parties that, like Vox, propagate a negative vision that can generate attitudes of rejection where before there were none.

It is one of the main conclusions reached by the scientific directors of the 2019 Immigration Yearbook of Cidob, which was presented this Thursday under the name “Immigration, Elections and Political Behavior”.

A year that has been marked by Donald Trump’s “radical offensive” against immigrants and asylum seekers, polarization and hyperpolitization in Europe of the migration phenomenon, the closure of ports in the central Mediterranean or the outsourcing and shielding of the borders of The EU.

Matters on which the PP and the PSOE have few differences, except for some in the speech and in the reception policies, the Cidob research coordinator, Blanca Garcés, has censored.

“The most terrible thing” is that this strategy, which is being imposed “brutally” in the United States but is also being applied in Europe and in Spain, is that it is being effective, added Joaquín Arango, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Complutense University of Madrid.

Not surprisingly, irregular entries of immigrants into our country were reduced by half in 2019, from 64,298 in 2018 (57,498 of them by sea) to 32,500, of which 26,168 went along the coast.

However, they are residual figures compared to the rest of the EU, as they barely accounted for 5%. But in Spain the media focus has been placed on the southern border because “it is a challenge for our rulers,” said David Moya, professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Barcelona.

Asylum seekers, on the other hand, doubled, and of the 54,060 of 2018 they exceeded 117,000 in 2019, the vast majority of them citizens of Venezuela, Colombia and Central American countries. But there is a “very little effort,” says Moya, “to achieve a complete asylum policy” and the system has failed to respond to that increase.

Nor have the legal and safe routes of immigrant entries been explored. “If we are going to be very tough and demanding at the borders, we have to have legal access mechanisms,” he has settled.

While all that was happening, he broke into the Vox political scene, which although in the April elections did not achieve the expected results, he improved them in the November ones.

The vote for this party, Arango explained, “has more of a vote of protest than of anti-immigration, although Vox voters are more likely to have hostile opinions to this group.

What happens with his speech is that it can contribute to alter feelings of a part of the population and raise attitudes of rejection where there were none before: “there is a risk that in Spain, which was clearly contrary to xenophobia, be naturalized” .

To which is added that parties like this, which “capitalize on a negative vision of immigration, propagate it and take advantage of it, do not receive an adequate political response.”

One of the articles in the yearbook shows how the economic recovery is being led largely by the foreign population, which accounts for 16% of total workers. Immigration has also allowed Spain to reach its maximum historical population and already accounts for 11% of the total.

“We must insist that more and more, immigration is going to be an imperative need, and it must be presented as an asset, a resource and an investment,” concluded Arango.


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