CIE 2021 Report, ‘Hostile Territory’

‘On 6th June we presented in the Spanish Senate our CIE 2021 Report “Hostile territory: different forms of hostility in the CIE”, where we analyse the situations and conditions in these centres over the last year. The event was moderated by Mª Carmen De La Fuente, coordinator of SJM, Ana Bosch from Pueblos Unidos and author of the report, Elena Davara as a volunteer from the CIE visiting team in Madrid, Josetxo Ordóñez from Migra Studium and author of the report, and Josep Buades (Director of the Claver-SJM Association) as the main author of the report. 

This has been a year marked by strict Covid-19 protocols that have led to difficult isolation for the people held in these centres, with serious consequences for their mental health, as well as deficient health care. This lack of optimal medical resources can be seen not only in terms of the pandemic but also in terms of the lack of privacy for patients or the scarcity of health resources to attend the people and, in addition, a lack of attention to mental health problems, aggravated in most cases by confinement and poor conditions. 

In this report, we focus our attention and our denunciation on three forms of hostility in CIEs in the year 2021:

  • Obstacles to the reporting and investigation of police assaults.
  • Deficiencias in medical and health care.
  • Obstacles to visits by social organizations.

All these hostilities lead to untenable situations for the migrants held in the centres, whose rights are violated every day they are locked up in unhealthy and inhumane conditions. 

In addition, many of these people detained in CIEs are adolescents whose age is not determined because their documentation from their place of origin is not accredited, with medical tests prevailing (which leads to a long period of time licked up in CIEs with uncertainty and worsening their physical and mental situation), in violation of the right to equality and non-discrimination before the law based on the best interests of the minor.

Social organisations are primarily concerned with the closure of the CIEs. Given the current improbability of their disappearance, as demonstrated by the construction of a new centre in Algeciras, we are in a constant struggle for the improvement of the conditions of these centres and we offer a humane accompaniment to the people interned, although subject to moments of possible restrictions. 




Prayer vigil in front of Barcelona Center for Detention (CIE) to demand hospitality

More than two hundred people gathered last Saturday, January 22nd, in front of the gates of the Center for Detention of the Zona Franca in Barcelona. It was the eighth edition of a prayer vigil organized by the Migra Studium Foundation group that regularly visits the inmates if the CIE, with the support of some eighty organizations. This year, under the slogan “Enough internment and expulsions, we want hospitality! A cry of denunciation and hope. 

The initiative served to denounce the unjust and useless suffering endured by migrants interned in these centers. This year, the management of the CIE of Barcelona has continued to be marked by the pandemic, with the doors closed and visits prohibited until June 16th. Since then, family members and NGOs have been able to enter in dribs and drabs, and with many obstacles and limitations. Again, a week ago, the right to visitation was lost again, according to the director, due to an outbreak of coronavirus in the center. This deprivation of freedom humiliates, criminalizes and stigmatizes the entire migrant population, which has a negative impact on public opinion. 

The first part of the event consisted in the reading of the witnesses collected by the volunteers of Migra Studium who visit the Center for Detention. The cases of Ahmed, Adil, Salim and Karbal were just a sample of the reality of suffering that is lived behind the walls of a CIE. Testimonies, heard in silence, at the gates of the CIE, echoed the pain, dignity and determination. “I arrived in Europe when I was 15 years old. Now, at 30, I just want to be able to settle here, to make my life, but things are not easy. On the 58th day of detention, I contacted the volunteer, hoping to be realized”, said Ahmed the day before he was expelled; “loneliness, loneliness and more loneliness”, said Salim, expelled in Argelia after 30 days of detention, without warning, hours before Argelia officially closed its border with Spain because of the pandemic. 

The hostility represented by the CIE was contrasted with Amadou and Hafid’s witnesses of hospitality. Migrants or refugees who have been able to count the welcome and support of the families of the Hospitality Network. 

The cold night, the walls and fences drowned, the echo of the public address system breaking the music and the silence and remoteness of the place, served for all those who came to the Zona Franca, to become aware of one of the many black holes of injustice and suffering that our world generates. As the people of Migra Studium usually say; “we will continue accompanying and we will continue denouncing until the last CIE closes”

SJM 2021 Meeting: Seeds of Resistance

On November 10th, 11st and 12nd, the Jesuit Migrant Service held its Annual Meeting 2021 in Madrid, where about 70 people from the network’s entities participated with the motto “Seeds of Resistance”. The meeting took place at the Casa de Ejercicios de las Esclavas de Cristo Rey. 

We began the Assembly on Wednesday, November 10th, when the welcome and reception took place at 7:00 pm. After dinner, an evening was organized as a first contact and meeting point for the participants of the Meeting.

On Thursday morning we began with an Institutional Welcome, where María del Carmen De La Fuente, SJM coordinator, and Luis Arancibia, Delegate of the Social Sector, presented the main challenges and achievements of the network, alluding to the motto of resistance to continue accompanying on a daily basis. After this presentation, with the aim of framing our action and putting a face to the realities seen in the care and accompaniment of migrants in the last year, the dynamic “The faces we see” took place. Through the faces of people who are accompanied, testimonies were presented so that we could see more closely what stories are seen in several of the areas and dimensions of work, from the southern border and Detention Centres , to residential reception and social inclusion. 

Wednesday morning ended with an eye on where we are. A self-diagnosis to make visible where the capacities of the works and the connections of the network are placed. To this end, 5 working groups were created, each with a dimension: protection, reception, residential, inclusion and coexistence. They identified elements defining each dimension, present difficulties and challenges, and connections with the other dimensions. To end the dynamics, there was a sharing among all the participants. 

Finally, as part of the same dynamic, we looked at where we should be in order to change things, with the objective of identifying the needs, challenges and opportunities to accompany, serve and defend the people we are looking at. For this space, based on what was carried out during the morning, the participants were distributed in three spaces: Intervention and Accompaniment, Strengthening and Sustainability, and Raising Awareness and Advocacy. In each space we identified lines of force and common aces to pool all the dimensions and understand where we should be in order to respond the needs and challenges of migrants in the most effective and relevant way. 

Friday morning was entitled “Keys to Resilience”, where some of the network’s colleagues shared their own stories, testimonies of celebration in each of the steps we take together with those we accompany, serve and defend, as well as words of resilience and hope that were shared to support the team in the most difficult moments and continue to look forward without giving up. 

To end the Assembly and before the group photo and the farewell meal, there was an space for closing and recollection of the Assembly in an interreligious key, with an activity in which each person shared the main word that resonates in this Assembly in a little boat that sails in the sea of the day to day in the accompaniment of migrants. 

Thank you very much to all the entities and companions who came to Madrid to share, enjoy and learn in this annual meeting where we recharge strength and energy to continue with our mission and challenges.

SJM is the network of organizations of the Social Sector of the Society of Jesus, organizations that work in the field of migration, which are: Pueblos Unidos Center and Padre Rubio of the Foundation San Juan del Castillo (Madrid), Migra Studium Foundation (Barcelona), Claver-SJM Association (Sevilla), Ellacuría Foundation (Bilbao), SJM Valencia, Red Íncola (Valladolid), Atalaya Intercultural (Burgos), Padre Lasa Center (Tudela), LoiolaEtxea Association (Donostia). The University Institute for Migration Studies (UP Comillas, Madrid) and the Diocesan Delegation of Migration of Tangier (site in Nador) are also part of the network.

Annual Report 2020

SJM (Jesuit Migrant Service) has, once again, published its Annual Report. 2020 has been an intense period, in which Covid pandemic has revealed the collective fragility, but at the same time has been a progress moment in SJM’s mission, that has invited us to seek more creative and hopeful common answers,. The entities part of SJM have accompanied 30,555 people during 2020, of which the 50% has been in first reception spaces, many of them motivated and adapted due Covid-19. 

Also, 817 people have been welcomed in Hospitality communities, more than 5.600 people have participated in training and employment programs, more than 2.500 in individualized itineraries of psychosocial and legal accompaniment, more than 1.880 women have been accompanied in the specific line, and about 7.200 people have participated in citizenship initiatives, coexistence in diversity and awareness.

In 2020, the common work developed by the entities that are part of the SJM network in 9 cities has been present and consolidated, as well as the work in alliance with other organizations of the Social Sector of the Society of Jesus and other Jesuit social and academic institutions. The presence and participation in external networks, at the intra-ecclesial and European level, broadens the joint view of accompaniment to the migrant collective in a complex. Changing and interconnected world. 

During this time of global emergency, new programs have been developed, like the virtual assistance channel during the state of alarm or the launch of the Lumen series of brief reports. The hospitality reception has prioritized the accompaniment of the most vulnerable people. Work at the internal (CIE) and external (Southern Border) borders has brought new challenges beyond the work. The other lines of work have found the spaces, adapting to a new reality to continue being close to the migrant population, trying to avoid falling into irregularity and accompanying processes of labor, training and social inclusion. 

SJM is a human team that works to accompany, serve and defend the integration process of migrant people and their rights, seeking to influence and reflect in order to generate a public debate on migration policies. It is formed, as stated in this Report, by 155 hired people in the member entities of the network, another 11 in the technical offices and 1.322 volunteers in various spaces and initiatives. To all of them and to all the people who make SJM’s mission possible, thank you very much for continuing to be close to us in such a complex year. 

CIE 2020 Report “Legal sense and political nonsense”

We publish the CIE 2020 Report: “Legal sense and political nonsense”, the eleventh study on Immigration Detention Centres (CIE by its Spanish acronym) in the SJM report series.

On this occasion, the work focuses on detention care in times of coronavirus, the most relevant circumstance of 2020. The insufficient health care in CIEs and the need to improve their diagnostic, treatment and referral capacities are facts that set the direction of the report. More specifically, this study deals with the case of Samba Martine, a Congolese woman who died in the CIE of Aluche because she did not receive health care, and the State’s financial responsibility towards Samba’s mother and daughter.

We also analyse the structural issues that SJM monitors year after year: rights monitored by the Ombudsman, articulation between the observation carried out by civil society… Finally, we address the investment plan for the CIEs between 2019 and 2024, drawn up with the intention of reforming the existing ones and starting work on a new CIE in Algeciras, a political will that confirms the budgetary effort allocated to these constructions.

For yet another year, we are launching this report to help measure and disseminate the exact scope of detention centres, thus offering an invitation to critical thinking about what happens inside them in order to achieve the end of the precautionary detention of foreigners and, until that moment arrives, a guaranteed achievement of Human Rights in them.

Download here the CIE 2020 Report – Spanish

Download the Annex of statistical data – CIE 2020 Report SJM

Download the Catalan version

Download the abridged version in English

First meeting of volunteers of the Immigration Detention Centers Visits Programme

On 12 May, for the first time, a meeting was held for all the volunteers who are part of the visiting teams to the CIEs (Immigration Detention Centers) in Barcelona, Valencia, Algeciras and Madrid. It was a virtual meeting where the volunteers themselves had the opportunity to get to know each other better and exchange experiences of a common work, such as “accompanying, serving and defending” the people who are interned in the CIE.

Volunteers – old and new – have put into words the feelings aroused by knowing and accompanying those who are deprived of their freedom behind bars “dreamcatchers”, as they defined the CIE. During the meeting, Cristina Manzanedo and Ilham Ennmer shared their testimonies with us, bringing us closer to life stories with which a bond is created that goes beyond the visits, and people to whom we try to give back the dignity they believe they have lost by being interned in these centres.

Cristina told her story following up the case of Samba Martine, a Congolese woman who died in the CIE of Madrid ten years ago due to an accumulation of medical negligence, and Ilham, on her part, shared her experience as a translator in the CIE of Algeciras, a city which, she said, she could not see in the same way since she started volunteering; her perception of the place changed even in the daily things, such as walking through its streets or bathing on the beach.

The meeting highlighted the importance of networking and the necessary convergence between legal work and citizen mobilisation to achieve a fairer world free of these centres for the detention of foreigners.

The general feeling of gratitude for being able to share stories and recharge each other’s batteries was mixed with those shared feelings that came to light when talking about such hard work: “Powerlessness, but also hope for the commitment of so many little people”. In the space there was also room for suggestions and no one better than those people who cross the doors of the CIE to do so.

WE THANK all the people who give their time to accompany those who are on the other side of the walls of a CIE, being an example of service and testimony of hope to continue “rowing all towards the same goal, leaving aside borders”.

SJM renews its corporate image

Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM Spain) renews its corporate image to continue the consolidation of its work of accompaniment, serve and advocacy for the rights of migrants and refugees. SJM was born more than 10 years ago now as a network that agglutinates the Jesuit social organizations that work with migrants in different cities. During past few years, this network has enhanced and covers more locations. This change is consistent with the mission ad vision that have been with SJM since the very beginning: the must of answer to social transformation and the certainty that mobility and adaptation are inherent attributes of human beings.

This image and website restyling is an instrument that helps to convey who we are in the actual context. New logo is a more simplified, modern and stylish figure, with the same colour as Social Apostolate in Spain, to which SJM belongs. The soft typography symbolises the closeness and warmth with which both staff and volunteers perform their duties every day.

The ’M’ of migrants represents our main essence: the top is a bridge of approach and encounter with other cultures and religions, where diversity is richness and there is no place for discrimination. The bottom part are three pillars that represent the three words of our motto (and JRS’ as well): accompany, serve and advocate.

SJM is made up of Jesuit social entities that works for the defence of the rights of migrants and their full access to citizenship, presents in 10 cities: Barcelona (Migra Studium), Bilbao (Fund. Ellacuría), Burgos (Atalaya Intercultural), Madrid (Pueblos Unidos-Padre Rubio), San Sebastián (Asoc. Loiolaetxea), Sevilla (Asoc. Claver), Tudela (Centro Lasa), Valencia (SJM Valencia), Valladolid (Red Íncola), alongside with a technical office in Madrid and a legal office in Melilla (Southern Border).

A prayer vigil to claim that living without CIE is possible

Living without CIE is possible”. This is the message that was conveyed this time at the prayer vigil in solidarity with the people interned in these centres, which is held every year by the different organisations of the Jesuit Migrant Service network. On this occasion, the meeting was held in Barcelona last Saturday, in front of the Zona Franca Detention Centre for Foreigners, while the vigil in Madrid has been postponed until a new date.

The group of visits to the CIE of the Migra Studium Foundation, which is organising the vigil in Barcelona, was joined by more than 60 organisations and groups. The number of participants was limited, but the event could be followed live on Instagram.

The initiative served to denounce the unjust and useless suffering of thousands of people interned in these centres. The testimonies of inmates, collected by the volunteers who visit them, were read out. Some of them suffer from health problems or are minors. Their stories highlight the violations of rights that occur inside the CIEs. “I am a minor. I don’t know why I am here. It’s been five days since I arrived and I can’t sleep or eat. I am afraid in the cell, in the courtyard, in the dining room”, a young Algerian who was finally deported explained to the volunteer.

The auxiliary bishop of Barcelona, Mgr Javier Vilanova, who attended the event, stressed the need to accompany the people who are interned. “We want them to feel our heart that loves them and defends their rights and dignity”.

In March last year, with the state of alarm over the pandemic, the CIE was empty and closed. “For seven months it has been proven that we can live without CIE”, says Migra Studium. But in October, the CIEs reopened again, under even more difficult conditions, as visits by family members, organisations and NGOs are restricted.

The hostility represented by the CIE contrasted with testimonies of hospitality. Migrants or refugees who have been able to count on the welcome and support of the hospitality network. During the vigil, which had a vindicative and contemplative dimension, texts from different religious traditions were read and candles were lit to represent the suffering of all the people who leave their land in search of a better present and future.