Vox has taken advantage of the neighborhood demonstration organized in the municipality of Mogán, supported by Mayor Onalia Bueno (Ciuca), to cast alarmist messages against the migratory movements that currently cross the Archipelago. “The Canary Islands stand up against massive illegal immigration,” the far-right party celebrated on its Twitter account the same day of the march attended by the Vox deputy for Las Palmas, Alberto Rodríguez. The attendees of the protest demanded that the Government dismantle the emergency camp for migrants set up on the Arguineguín dock and which has gathered more than 1,300 people in precarious conditions. Under slogans such as “long live Spain”, “no to the invasion” or “expulsion of illegal immigrants now”, dozens of people gathered in the south of Gran Canaria demanding “more security for the people”.
Thanks to this demonstration, the far-right party has reproduced myths against the migrant population that, according to Vox, “overflows our services, makes labor cheaper and destroys our neighborhoods”. Asked by this means, the Canarian deputy has assured that “it makes labor cheaper because, at a time like now with high structural unemployment, the arrival of more labor despises the value of wages. It is in line with the balances of supply and demand in the labor market ”. The public website StopRumores, financed by the Ministry of Employment and Social Security and co-financed by the Fund for Asylum, Migration and Integration, explains that these types of speeches are repeated more frequently in times of crisis.
In the case of migrants in an irregular administrative situation, the difficulties and obstacles to regularize their status in the country make them doomed to the underground economy, with precarious jobs such as street vending. Many women are even forced into prostitution. The secretary of the Federation of African Associations of the Canary Islands (FAAC), Teodoro Bondyale, warned during the confinement that many migrants in an irregular administrative situation in the Canary Islands had faced the pandemic with 50 euros in their pockets. “Many lived from day to day and on the verge of marginality, selling in markets and earning about 50 euros a week.” The health and economic crisis that has hit Spain since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has also affected migrant communities that demand collective regularization. “We cannot face violence and the virus on equal terms,” they stress.
According to data from the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, collected by the StopRumores agency, the crisis does not cause the replacement of Spanish workers by foreign workers in a regular situation. “In almost all occupations in which Spaniards lose their jobs, foreigners also lose them.” “Only 1 in 10 people employed in Spain is foreign. They suffer the consequences of the crisis with greater intensity than the Spanish population ”. According to the latest Labor Force Survey (EPA) of the National Institute of Statistics, the unemployment rate among the Spanish population is 14.77%, while unemployment among the foreign population reaches 25.65%.
Immigrants “sometimes face rejection by employers because of their skin color, their religion or the way they dress.” Their studies and qualifications “are not always recognized in Spain”, so they cannot access qualified jobs. This leads to a greater precariousness of jobs, with negative working conditions in unstable sectors. This is the case of temporary workers or construction and household employees.
Vox has demanded the immediate expulsion of the “illegal immigrants”. Law 12/2009 regulating the right to asylum and subsidiary protection obliges Spain to offer humanitarian reception to those people who have reached the territory because they have in their country of origin “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion , nationality, political opinions, belonging to a certain social group, gender or sexual orientation ”.
Those people who have arrived by sea and do not meet these requirements are admitted to a Foreigners Internment Center (CIE) while their deportation is being processed. A practice rejected by multiple specialized organizations that appeal to the right of free movement and denounce the deprivation of liberty to which migrants are subjected in the CIE in conditions that “violate human rights”. The President of the Government of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, has already announced that this November the air connections with Morocco will be resumed, which will allow to reactivate the expulsions to this country.
Likewise, after the visit of the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, to Mauritania, the reopening of the CIEs in all of Spain was ordered, closed during the pandemic due to the impossibility of expelling migrants due to the closure of borders. In the case of Barranco Seco, in Gran Canaria, the eviction was also ordered due to the overcrowding conditions that favored the spread of the virus in the facilities. Between the last months of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, more than a hundred Malians were expelled to Mauritania.
According to UNHCR, no person from the regions affected by the conflict should be forcibly returned, since the rest of the country should not be considered an adequate alternative to asylum until such time as the security situation, the rule of law and human rights have improved significantly. Thus, UNHCR urges States to provide access to territory and asylum procedures to people fleeing the conflict in Mali.
The mayor of Mogán, Onalia Bueno, acknowledges that there were “attempts of racism” in the demonstration. “It is what living in a democratic society has to do,” he justified in an interview with a local radio station in which he also blamed the growth of Vox on the central government’s immigration management. For his part, Deputy Alberto Rodríguez assures that “the only thing the party did” was support the neighborhood platform that feels “abandoned.” “The dock has been overflowing with thousands of people due to the improvisation of Minister Escrivá. The Government is very late, “stressed the deputy, who proposes to strengthen surveillance at the borders to reduce” the security gap.
Rodríguez also considers that the arrival of migrants to the Canary coasts causes a “discredit of the Islands as a tourist destination.” The economist and professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) Josefa Martín insists that the current fall in tourism is motivated by the pandemic and that, despite this international context, visitors continue to arrive in the Canary Islands because it is a safe destination. “Migrants do not generate any disturbance. To think that is to be carried away by the misuse of the phenomenon by political parties,” he says. From his point of view, the manipulation promoted by political formations must be combated with an effective response by the administrations to the arrival of migrants, providing spaces and fighting the mafias that put the lives of people who want to continue their lives at risk. migration project in Europe.