THE Spanish prime minister’s economic adviser has published a report which attributes 50 per cent of Spain’s economic growth during the last five years to immigrants in the country.

The findings shed light on Spain’s double-edged approach to immigration. Spain raised eyebrows last year amongst European bureaucrats for granting 700,000 work permits to illegal immigrants during a three month amnesty; a move which many thought excessive and a green light for thousands more persons to attempt to enter Spain’s territory illegally.

Conversely, the Spanish authorities are renowned for their hardcore stance against illegal persons, so for those without state documents (‘los sin papeles’) it is impossible to work legally or find legitimate accommodation. Amnesty International keeps a continuous watchful eye over the treatment by law enforcement officials of those immigrants at large in the country and those attempting to enter illegally. Frequently reported are beatings and ill treatment on the part of the authorities as well as unlawful deportations of possible asylum candidates in breach of international law.

The recent government paper however, signifies that from an economic point of view, immigrants contribute more than they receive from the Spanish economy.

Spain’s development lagged behind that of many other European states during the twentieth century; some attribute this to dictatorship, the relaxed Catholic work ethic and the inefficiency of the split working day as well as the stifling summer climate.

Penned by Miguel Sebastian, prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s authority on economic issues, the report estimates that immigrants have flooded the Spanish treasury with 23bn euros in the last five years. This contribution comes partly through the willingness of economic migrants to do lower skilled jobs which the increasingly affluent Spanish citizens are becoming less willing to take on.

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