Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Spain's Boat People

Writing in The Weekly Standard, Christopher Caldwell examines Spain’s immigration problem. An excerpt:

Spanish laws towards foreigners are generous, and punctilious about human rights. They also invite chicanery. You cannot detain an immigrant for more than 40 days unless you charge him with a crime, and you cannot deport an immigrant unless you know where he comes from. If he can keep his mouth shut for a month or so, or if he can mis direct the bureaucracy until his 40 days have elapsed, he's in like Flynn. A common way to throw authorities off balance is to pretend to be from somewhere else. Since Spain does not have an extradition treaty with strife-torn Ivory Coast, for instance, many of the Senegalese who have arrived by boat in recent weeks have claimed to be from there (even though the two countries speak mutually exclusive sets of African languages). In October, Pakistan demanded that a half dozen boat people (out of hundreds taken off a rusty old freighter and "repatriated" there) be sent back to Spain. They turned out to be from Indian Kashmir, not Pakistanis at all. You have to be pretty unlucky to get repatriated. Of the 30,000 Senegalese who have arrived this year, only 4,000 have been sent back. The others are put on flights to the Spanish mainland, with an expulsion order in their pocket. Such orders are virtually never enforced. For a migrant, this is roughly a 7-out-of-8 chance of settling in Spain indefinitely: excellent odds.

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