A Visit to Spain, Which Has Its Own Immigration Issues
My two sons and I took a trip to Spain this month. It’s a great place to visit.
We had a rather simple plan – land in Madrid, rent a car, drive around the country and see things. And that’s what we did.
Of course, we couldn’t see everything. Spain is larger than California. But we visited several major cities, passed through different regions, and saw a lot of countryside. We also drove through Portugal.
Being able to speak Spanish was a great asset. I lived in Mexico for a decade and a half and when I went to Spain I felt the same general ambience. That’s the power of culture.
The Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) has a unique history, setting it apart in some ways from other European countries.
The ham and cheese in Spain is delicious and I could make a regular diet of it.
Since I write about immigration, I was on the lookout for immigration angles. If you’re a writer, you’re always working, even on “vacation”!
We ran into a number of immigrants, including a Biafran, a Senegalese, a Moroccan, an Egyptian, a Chinese couple, and a British man of subcontinental origin.
And I met a few Nicaraguans, a Salvadoran, and a Latin American whose nationality I didn’t discover.
It used to be that most immigrants in Spain were just passing through. They preferred to go north, to a place with more welfare, such as Britain, Germany or Sweden.
Nowadays, however, many immigrants are staying. How will immigration change Spain in the long run?
In recent decades, the immigrant population has exploded in Spain, from 1.6% in 1998 to 15.23% (7,231,195) in 2020.
It might actually be higher. As in our own country, there are plenty of immigrants who aren’t accounted for.
Spain is the only European Union nation that has a land border with Africa. There are two Spanish enclaves on the African continent, Ceuta and Melilla, each of which has a border fence.
From time to time, people get through or around fences guarding those territories. Sometimes, mobs will storm them.
Once they get into Ceuta or Melilla, they are on Spanish/European Union soil. Then all they have to do is cross over to Spain.
According to official Spanish government statistics of 2022, Morocco is the country with the highest number of immigrants living in Spain at nearly a million, followed by Romania and Colombia at about half a million each, as well as a number of other countries.
Ten years ago, a new political party emerged in Spain called Vox. It’s a true conservative nationalist party which seeks to preserve traditional Spain and enact a more restrictive immigration policy. Vox has grown and may do well in this year’s election. (See my Vox file here).
According to Santiago Abascal, leader of the Vox party, “An immigrant from a sister Hispano-American country, with the same culture, the same language, the same world view, is not the same as the immigration proceeding from the Islamic countries.” [2018, Spanish source here]
I doubt if Spain really needs immigrants in 2023, but just for the sake of argument, if Spain does need them, wouldn’t it be preferable to import immigrants from Latin America rather than from Islamic countries? I think that’s what Abascal meant.
However, there have already been troublemakers among Latin American immigrants in Spain, so of course the country should be selective in taking in immigrants from those countries.
Spanish law allows immigrants from the former Spanish Empire to naturalize as citizens after residing in Spain for only two years, after which they are no longer classified as immigrants. That could be another reason that the 15 million figure is an undercount.
The day my sons and I left Spain we went to the Vox party headquarters in Madrid. I was hoping to interview someone from the party, but it was a day off in Spain so it didn't work out.
Here at Border Hawk we can’t endorse parties or candidates, and we don’t meddle in foreign politics. However, it’s good to keep an eye on immigration policy in other countries and see what we can learn from it.
You can find more of Allan Wall's work at his website.