Cablegate: Immigrants in Spain: Fewer Job Opportunities,

DE RUEHMD #1134/01 3291622
P 251622Z NOV 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. SUMMARY. With unemployment nearing 20 percent, immigrants
in Spain are finding work sparse and low-paying, according to
informal interviews conducted in past several months.
Immigrants, many from Latin America or North Africa, have
seen previously abundant sources of work dry up in the first
half of 2009, and have reduced remittances to their home
countries. However, few are considering returning to their
home countries, saying that the situation there is often

2. About half of all immigrants moving to Spain are actively
seeking work; however, less than 10% have a job before they
arrive. While this may have been sustainable during boom
years, immigrants are now experiencing difficulties finding
work. The latest active population survey from the end of
September 2009 revealed that for the first time in 13 years
(since the third quarter of 1996) there are fewer immigrants
living in Spain compared with the previous study. Data
collected by the National Statistics Institute suggests that
there were 30,000 fewer immigrants from Latin America, while
a significant number of Romanians and other EU immigrants
returned home. Analysts attribute the shift to a halt in
arrivals, along with a rise in departures. The press has
reported that the number of illegal immigrants arriving from
Sub-Sahara Africa, frequently traveling by boat to the Canary
Islands, has also declined as word spreads in African
communities that fewer job opportunities are available and
life in Spain is more difficult than it used to be.

// Immigrants Seek Legal Status as Work Becomes Scarce //

3. To determine the impact of the economic crisis on
immigrant populations, POL staff surveyed immigrants outside
the offices of the Ministry of Territorial Policy, (where
work and residency permits applications are filed) during the
last several months. Over 60 percent of immigrants in Spain
have been here for over five years. Of those we spoke with,
many had previously been able to work without official
papers. With less "off the books" work available, immigrants
have turned to the government for permits to work legally.
As a Peruvian migrant explained, "there is no more working
without papers." Since 2007, he had worked construction jobs
in Spain without papers. Since the onset of the crisis, he
said, there have been fewer jobs, and the process for getting
a working permit has become more difficult. Note: Many
immigrants may also be applying for work permits as a path to
residency. As residents, they would be able to collect
generous unemployment benefits. End Note.

// Remittances Decrease as Immigrants Struggle to Cover Costs

4. Almost every immigrant interviewed has been sending
money to his or her home country to support family left
behind. Many used to make weekly or monthly contribution,
and have now cut back, in some cases stop cases not being
able to send anything. Even with the crisis, however, many
still try to send what they can. Patricia, who came to Spain
in 2003 from her native Bolivia, has been able to continue
sending money back to the family she left behind, albeit less
than she did before. For her, the exchange rate is such that
a small number of Euros can amount to a significant
remittance when converted to Bolivianos. One Moroccan man
described the economic situation as "terrible," saying that
he has had to stop remittances all together. Many of the
700,000 Moroccans in Spain may be facing similar situations
(ref B), as Moroccans were disproportionately represented in
the construction industry, which collapsed after a long boom.

// Staying in Spain, through Good Times and Bad //

5. Even though almost all of those interviewed have seen
reductions in income in recent months, many say they would
rather stay in Spain and wait for an economic recovery than
return to their home country. Ezuma left his native Nigeria
in 2003 to work in Spanish factories and construction jobs.
Even though he has not been able to find work in Spain for
months, he has no desire to return to Nigeria because "has no
life there." He obtained Spanish nationality, and in doing
so had to renounce his Nigerian citizenship. Even many who
have been here for less time want to bear the crisis in Spain
and wait for times to get better. Dante, a Peruvian
immigrant who has been in Spain for three and a half years,
explained: "the 2,000 percent inflation we had to live with
in Peru makes even today,s situation in Spain seem
pleasant." The GOS initiated a program to give illegal
immigrants incentives to return to their home countries. The

MADRID 00001134 002 OF 002

national government offers to pay for a flight home and
nominal financial assistance. In addition, the GOS operates
an incentive program for legal immigrants to depart Spain.
However, according the Ministry of Labor and Immigration, as
of the third quarter of 2009 only a very small percentage
(8,724 people) requested voluntary return from a legal
immigrant population of 4.5 million. The countries with the
most voluntary return requests were Ecuador (44 percent),
Colombia (18 percent), and Argentina (9 percent). There have
been very few applications from North Africans or Sub-Saharan

// Intra-Immigrant Community Resentment Builds as Resources
Become Scarce //

6. Among immigrants from different countries, some are
beginning to show resentment towards others. This often
stems from jealously of perceived discrepancies in work
opportunities or legal status. For example, Jorge from Peru
thinks the Chinese find work more easily, citing the large
number of Chinese businesses in Madrid. He opined that the
Chinese in Spain are not significantly suffering from the
crisis. Amir from Pakistan has been struggling to apply for
official papers after being in Spain for three years and
working without papers as a waiter. He expressed frustration
that he had to compete with the large population of
Bulgarians and Romanians, who, because of the EU,s common
market labor laws, have the right to work legally in Spain.

//COMMENT: Low Potential for Radical Extremism due to
Economic Crisis //

7. In this small sampling, immigrants did not express any
disfranchisement or frustration that appeared it might
potentially led to radicalism caused by the current economic
crisis. As an example of efforts to ameliorate the
situation, the Andalusian regional government, in
coordination with several NGOs focused on labor rights, ran
outreach campaigns to inform potential immigrants that there
were no jobs available in the vast olive groves of Jaen this
year (unemployed Spaniards are being hired for the harvest).
Among those immigrants we interviewed, there was general
sentiment that the rapid growth in the Spanish economy
through the greater part of the decade, and the preponderance
of construction sector jobs, created a temporary "boom". For
many immigrants the bust has been equally rapid. However,
those who have chosen to remain in country believe this phase
of the economic crisis to be a temporary hardship. They
remain optimistic about their future prospects. END COMMENT.


© Scoop Media

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