Spain
The Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía asks for the text of the preliminary draft immigration law reform to be withdrawn


After learning about the preliminary draft that the Council of Ministers approved last Friday to reform the Ley de Extranjería (Aliens' Law), the assessment by the Asociación Pro-Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA, Andalusian Association for Human Rights) is basically negative.

The reform is already incoherent its initial approach because, at the same time as it defines the recognition of equal rights and duties for anyone who lives and works legally in Spain as principles of migration policy, when it comes to regulating them in concrete terms, it creates a dangerous differentiation in terms of rights between long-term residents and temporary residents, for example, in the field of housing.

Apart from being hypocritical, the approved text introduces new cuts as regards the rights of immigrants, and on this point, two issues stand out especially: the increase in the number of days of detention, which passes from 40 to 60 [days], and the impossibility of regrouping elder relatives who are under 65 years old. In both cases alike, the restrictions are gratuitous without a genuine logical basis to support them, other than sending out a message to the more extremist milieux that the governments is looking to use a "firm hand" towards immigrants.

The increase in the period of detention from 40 to 60 days means that we are drifting towards terribly dangerous terrain. In spite of stating actively and passively that that Spain would not be affected by the Returns Directive approved in the EU [arena], the first measure in this respect is an increase in the length of detention, without it having been proved in any way that extending the detention period by 20 days is at all useful in managing migrations in a way that is effective and respectful of human rights. Rather, the opposite is true, as the number of days is increased but no intervention on the worrying situation in detention centres is undertaken, in terms of legal measures.

As regards the impossibility of re-uniting elder relatives of foreigners who are under 65 years old, the text approved by the Council of Ministers seeks to introduce a restriction without any basis whatsoever. Not even in the most twisted economicist theories on public spending would this kind of measure be justified. Moreover, this restriction will entail an impossibility of structuring very many families of immigrants and will make it more difficult to create family networks to provide assistance and care, which represent one of the main social disadvantages that immigrants in our territories suffer.

It is true that the text contains some positive points such as the new regulation of expulsion procedures may be, as it enables foreigners to leave Spain voluntarily before a sanction being imposed, thus avoiding the double burden of a pernicious re-entry ban. Likewise, the possibility for the [public] administration to postpone, suspend or revoke the expulsion may be beneficial for the respect of human rights in specific situations in which they may be seriously at risk.

Nonetheless, and in spite of these nuances, the overall text displays an appearance that is markedly restrictive, prohibitionist and entailing a clampdown on rights, raising concerns that are as alarming as the introduction of taxes to submit applications in the field of immigration. Within this same reactionary trend, we also place matters such as introducing conducts that fall under family needs or social assistance within the concept of "promoting illegal immigration", with subsequent sanctions that are set which may reach 10,000 Euro fines.

Furthermore, all of this is done under the aegis of a utilitarianist perspective, focussed exclusively on the vision of immigrant people in relation to the labour market, and converting social integration into a mere rhetorical resort of the declaration of principles of migration policy, but which is not given any practical effect in the framework of the text.

In sum, the overall balance that we draw of the text cannot have any other conclusion than a clearly negative one. Consequently, we call on the government to withdraw the text immediately and to re-examine [the possibility of] a new text in which the respect for human rights, for international conventions such as that on the rights of migrant workers and their families, and the wholesale compliance with constitutional court sentences that declared that certain precepts in the current Ley de Extranjería were inconstitutional, must be a priority.

Andalusia, 22 December 2008

[unofficial translation by Statewatch]

"La Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) pide la retirada del texto del Anteproyecto de la reforma de la ley de extranjería" (original, in Spanish)

APDHA website

The draft reform: "Anteproyecto de ley de reforma de la Ley Orgánica 4/2000, de 11 de enero, sobre derechos y libertades de los extranjeros en España y su integración social, 19.12.08.

Comparative text: Ley Orgánica 4/2000 and proposed draft reform (from the Reicaz website of the Saragossa lawyers association)


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