Spain: Annual statistics on the fight against illegal immigration published

The Spanish interior ministry published its annual figures on activities to counter illegal immigration for 2007, which it described as having reached significant achievements. It details a decrease in the number of arrivals by boat, 18,057, less than half the figure for 2006 (39,180). The route to the Canary islands was marked by the most substantial decrease (60.6%) in arrivals, down from 31,678 to 12,478, whereas arrivals on the peninsula and Balearic islands were down by a quarter, from 7,502 to 5,579, and the north African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla also experienced a lower number of arrivals of "illegal" immigrants (down from 2,000 to 1,553).

In spite of the lessening arrivals, the interior ministry also highlights a 6% increase in repatriations (up from 52,814 to 55,938), that is, three times more than the recorded number of arrivals (by boat). Repatriations are divided between refusals of entry at border points (up by 26% to 24,355), expulsions in execution of readmission agreements (up by 35.4% to 6,248), expulsions (up by 31.2% to 31.2%) and returns of people who sought to enter Spain by routes that avoided border points, the only category in which there was a substantial decrease (down by 27.3% to 15,868), presented as resulting from the decrease in the entry of "illegal" immigrants.

Figures that are almost matching concerning records of "illegal" immigrants arrived/detected and those repatriated (50,318 and 46,471 respectively) throw up an "effectiveness" rating of 92.3%. With regards to repatriations, a longer period of comparison helps to give an idea of the increase in specific weight of expulsions in immigration policy: thus, there was a 43.4% increase in repatriations between the 2000-2003 and 2004-2007 periods, from 258,049 to 370,027; and the number of people repatriated in deportation flights has more than doubled, from 14,397 to 40,787, over the same period (a 183.3% increase). From 2003 and 2007, the number of police personnel deployed in border and immigration work rose by over 2,000 (24.7%), from 10, 239 to 12,771.

The balance of the 2004-2007 legislature, is presented through a long list of achievements that provides a useful, albeit sanitised, summary of institutional activity and initiatives. A general directorate of international relations and immigration was set up, the network of interior ministry attachés was extended to include countries on the western coast of Africa (Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Cape Verde), and agreements were reached with ten African countries (Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Cape Verde, Ghana and Gambia). The EU effort through Frontex operations since 2006 has involved patrols in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, to which 7 European countries have contributed (France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, UK and Norway), an outlay over 12 million Euros for African countries, and Spain has been the main beneficiary of EU funding in the field, and is set to receive 87 million Euros between 2007 and 2008.

Frontex is listed as having intercepted 12,864 candidates for "illegal" immigration and 155 vessels since its deployment on 11 August 2006, with both its highest recorded monthly figures from successive Septembers - 17 vessels and 1,476 people in 2006, and 15 vessels and 1,310 people in 2007 -, while its lowest recorded figures are from January and November 2007 - 2 vessels and 375 people, and 2 vessels and 381 people respectively -. The listing of means deployed, cost and results of these operations suggests that what results are being achieved are extraordinarily expensive: the budget for Hera I and Hera II operations in the second half of 2006 was of over 3.75m Euros (just for Hera II as the figure listed for Hera I is unclear), and resulted in the interception of 57 "cayucos" (long wooden boats) and the return of 3,878 immigrants. In 2007, when Frontex deployment has been almost permanent after 12 February, when Hera III started, with short quarterly breaks between "phases".

Cumulatively, Hera III, and the three phases of Hera 2007, had a budget of 7.8m Euros, and resulted in the interception of 77 "cayucos" and 6,756 immigrants, and one slave ship with 388 immigrants on board. Under the heading "a better control of borders", the report also details the expansion of the Sistema Integrado de Vigilancia Exterior (SIVE, Integrated External Surveillance System), the implementation of the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) in March 2007, that has allowed the detection of 295 criminals who sought to enter Spain, and the changes in requirements to enter Spain, including an increase in the amount of money needed and changes in the invitation letter required. The SIVE was deployed along the coast in the provinces of Algeciras, Fuerteventura, part of Cádiz, Málaga, Ceuta and Granada by 2004, in Almería, Huelva, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and a wider area in Cádiz since 2005, and works towards its implementation are currently underway in Tenerife, La Gomera, El Hierro, Valencia, Alicante, Murcia and Ibiza.

Balance de la lucha contra la inmigracion ilegal 2007, Ministerio del interior, January 2008 (pdf)


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