Immigration in Spain: Migratory Routes, Cooperation with Third Countries and Human Rights in Return Procedures
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L'immigration en Espagne : Routes migratoires, coopération avec les pays tiers et droits de l'homme dans les procédures de retour
Author/sGonzález García, Inmaculada
DepartmentDerecho Internacional Público, Penal y Procesal
SourcePaix et Securité Internationales - Journal of International Law and International Relations
Following a brief overview of immigration in Spain, the present paper first analyses the main routes of irregular immigration into Spain, giving recent data on the number of arrivals by sea and land to the Iberian Peninsula, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and Spanish territories in North Africa. The sea has traditionally been the main route of entry to Spanish territory for immigrants primarily from Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the years 2013 to 2015 proved an exception to this rule, with immigration by land outstripping that by sea due to an increase in the arrival of Syrian immigrants to the cities of Ceuta and above all Melilla. Next, a description is given of the political and operational mechanisms established by the Spanish authorities to control Spain’s maritime borders, especially in the Canary Islands. Such border control is achieved through unilateral surveillance measures (the Integrated External Surveillance System, Spanish initials: SIVE), bilateral cooperation (inter-state agreements with Morocco and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa) and regional cooperation within the European Union (EU). This is followed by a discussion of how immigration routes have been affected by increased cooperation between Spain and African States to intercept immigrants in their countries of origin or during transit. There is likewise an analysis of Spain’s use of summary returns or pushbacks following assaults or jumps on the border fences surrounding Ceuta and Melilla and attempts of arrival by swimming in Ceuta or by sea to Spanish islands and islets in North Africa, within the framework of the 1992 Spanish-Moroccan agreement on readmission of foreigners who have entered irregularly. Lastly, we argue that the reinforcement of border control alone is insufficient to curb migration flows: to be effective, it must be accompanied by common policies in the European countries of destination and increased investment in the countries of origin to provide their citizens with the opportunity to obtain a higher standard of living and overcome the temptation to emigrate as a first option.