Analysis of the proposal for the reform of the Immigration Regulation

In the Council of Ministers of 31st May 2022, it was agreed to authorize the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration to urgently process a draft Royal Decree amending the Immigration Regulation. Urgent processing implies dispensing with some procedures (such as public consultation) and the reduction of deadlines for others, such as public information. 

On Friday 3rd June, the public hearing and information period was opened to collect contributions from civil society for 7 working days, until Monday 13rd June. A draft Royal Decree modifying 18 articles of the Immigration Regulation was submitted for public information, accompanied by the Regulatory Impact Analysis Report. 

4 KEY IDEAS OF SJM’S POSITION ON THE REFORM:

  • Many people remain outside the regulation: the utilitarian nature of the proposals leaves out the reality of forced migration. Furthermore, it does not put an end to the precariousness that exists in these sectors, it ignores elements of social inclusion that are not aimed at employment and it does not consider the lack of protection that is generated during the administrative processing times. 
  • It attempts to establish simpler and more agile immigration procedures, although with insufficient measures to allow for improvements in the short term. 
  • It broadens and makes the figures of “arraigo” (rootedness) more flexible, eliminating some barriers and creating a new figure of regularization.
  • It generates longer and more sustainable recruitment itineraries at origin for legal and safe migration, albeit circular – focused on employment and with an obligation to return to the country of origin. 

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We have published a Practical Guide with the keys to processing residence and work permits for minors under guardianship and young migrants who were formerly under guardianship.

The reform of the Immigration Regulation of November 2021, with the entry into effect of Royal Decree 903/2021, has marked a turning point in the legal regulation of young people migrant alone to Spain. The previous regulations set out requirements that most young people were not able to meet, having to face numerous obstacles that prevented them from continuing with their future plans and achieving their dreams. Instead, we now have more flexible regulatory framework that is better adapted to the particularities of unaccompanied migrant minors and young people in detention. 

With the publication of this guide we seek to offer to all the people who work on a daily basis with children and youth migrant and the young foreigners themselves some keys so that they can carry out the necessary procedures to maintain of obtain a residence and work authorization that will help them on their way to autonomy and social and labor insertion. It includes the aspects to be taken into account from their arrival in Spanish territory for their regularization once they reach the age of majority, as well as the renewal of these authorizations. 

We seek to provide a practical approach, sharing the steps to follow and the necessary documentation to present to prevent these young people from falling into a situation of supervening irregularity, and to participate in the promotion of good practices that lighten the bureaucratic processes and focus on what is most important: the accompaniment and inclusion of all young people who are in Spain. 

CONSUL HERE THE GUIDE FOR THE PROCESSING OF THE APPLICATION AND RENEWAL OF THE RESIDENCE AND WORK PERMIT IN SPAIN. 

‘Semillas’, the new SJM’s podcast.

In the SJM we wanted to start the year with a project that we carry out with a great enthusiasm and excitement. A project with which we hope accompany migrants and refugees in their migratory phases, in a way that is close to all the people who are part of out SJM family an its work.

This project is named ‘Semillas’ (seeds), a podcast where we share different moments, works, experiences, points of view and strength to face each of the challenges we encounter every day in the process of accompanying, serving and defending migrants and refugees, whose rights are constantly violated.

In our first episode, in addition to talking about what SJM is and how it works, we introduced and analyzed, in the MigraAcciones section, how each of our strategic lines are focused on serving and defending the rights of all these people. Therefore, we have considered important to talk about the history of this organization; how the Jesuits began this mission of walking alongside excluded people in search of social justice since the birth of JRS in 1980.

On the other hand, in this episode we interview Jaime Pons, technical coordinator of the SJM network, who talks about the global challenges of migration today and in the future.

The first installment of ‘Semillas’ is hosted by two colleagues from our SJM Technical Office in Madrid, Daniel Martínez and Pilar Sanz.

Transparency is one of the main qualities in any organization, so we want to share the essence of our work. We also consider this an original what to do it, where we seek a sense of family in the struggle for a society where the human rights of all people are respected, especially those affected by war, persecution, lack of resources or any other situation that causes there rights to be violated.

You can listen here the first episode of our podcast #Semillas.

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Reponses to the Ukraine crisis

Since last Thursday, February 24th, 2022, when Vladimir Putin’s Russian government decided to launch a military operation to invade Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes to flee to neighboring countries such as Poland, Hungary, Romania or Moldova. As of March 2nd, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that more than 1 million people have already crossed the external borders in the first week of the war. According to European Commission estimates, between 2.5 and 6.5 million Ukrainians may be displaced by the armed conflict, and between 1.2 and 3.2 million of them will apply for international protection. 

Jesuit social organizations working with migrant and refugee populations have been following the events in Ukraine with particular concern. We join Pope Francis in expressing our sorrow for the “diabolical senselessness of violence” and in asking all parties to “refrain from any action that could cause further suffering”. The international cooperation entities (Alboan and Entreculturas) together with the Xavier Network have activated an emergency protocol to collaborate in the sustainability of the humanitarian programs that the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe and other entities of the Society of Jesus are carrying out, mobilizing resources worldwide to provide immediate support in Ukraine and neighboring. 

The European Union’s response: advocating a welcoming response. 

The European Commission has proposed the application of the Temporary Protection Directive to Ukrainian refugees, which would automatically grant them a residence and work authoritation in member states. The proposal has been approved by the EU on Thursday, March 3rd in Brussels. 

We welcome the initial positive response of the EU Member States, determined to react as a Union and provide protection to people fleeing Ukraine and strongly support the proposal to activate the procedure to provide temporary protection in cases of peak influx of refugees, as foreseen by the Temporary Protection Directive. 

We would like to stress that all persons fleeing the conflict in Ukraine should be able to leave the country, regardless of their nationality. Once they are safe, and in appropriate reception conditions, the protection needs of non-Ukrainian third country nationals can be assessed in accordance with existing procedures and the repatriation of those wishing to return to their countries of origin can and should be facilitated. 

In addition to the immediate response, EU Member States should swiftly discuss and agree on a responsibility-sharing plan, including clear relocation measures, to ensure that the workload in Ukraine’s neighboring countries is kept under control and that EU protection standards and reception conditions can be guaranteed. Finally, it is also imperative to recognize the protection needs of Ukrainians who were already outside the country when the conflict began. 

At the Spanish level: willingness to protect and dialogue between administrations and social entities. 

The Spanish Government has committed itself “to be aligned with the decision to be taken by the Council of the European Union regarding the possible granting of temporary protection in the event of a massive influx of displaced persons and measures to promote an equitable effort among the Member States to receive such persons and to assume the consequences of their reception”. As stated in the institutional declaration of march 1st, “with regard to Ukrainian citizens living in Spain, the necessary measures will be taken to ensure that they can stay and work in our country, have access to health and educational care, as well as to the corresponding social assistance”. 

The Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration has initiated the contacts and procedures to coordinate and prepare the device for the reception of people coming from Ukraine. In recent days, meetings have been held between the Ministry and the Autonomous Communities, with NGO’s that are part of the public system for the reception of refugees and with organizations of the Ukrainian community in Spain

The action of JRS Europe and its national offices with the population fleeing Ukraine (communiqué of March 1st).

In Ukraine: helping those fleeing supporting internally displaced persons.

In Lviv, where JRS is present, the security situation remains relatively calm. Many people are arriving from other parts of Ukraine. Most intend to reach the Polish border and often need support or a place to spend the night on their way. The JRS refugee house, with a capacity of about 20 people, is currently being used used for that purpose. Also the Jesuit retreat house has immediately become a transit house for displaced personas. 

In Romania: JRS in the front line.

Between February 24th and 28th, 70,000 people passed from Ukraine to Romania. Some 30,000 of them left quickly for other EU countries, while 28,000 chose to stay. At the moment, only a small minority officially applied for asylum seekers. Both the Romanian authorities and citizens are showing great enthusiasm for welcoming the people, although there is still a need to coordinate the various responses. 

JRS in Romania is providing support both in the centers for asylum seekers along the borders and to people who are not in the centers, providing welcome packs, acting as a mediator between private donors, government organizations and people in need, supporting people to reach airports and train stations, providing accommodation in JRS’ own shelter and seeking further accommodation for people in need. 

In Poland and Hungary: creating and supporting a reception infrastructure.

Poland is at the moment the country receiving the most arrivals of people from Ikraine. Many are staying with family and friends, as well as traveling to other EU countries. JRS is mobilizing to facilitate the transport of people from the borders, as well as to provide basic supplies and support people in search of temporary accommodation through rental assistance. Additional support in the form of legal, administrative and psychological assistance is being organized. 

At the moment, Hungary is receiving a smaller number of people, including Hungarians who were living across the border in Ukraine. The government has expressed its willingness to support the refugees and the Hungarian population if reacting in a very welcoming manner. JRS has a small presence in the country and is currently assessing how best to be of service. Hungary is traditionally a transit country for refugees, but in this case, if the conflict persists, it is likely that many Ukrainians will want to stay. Therefore, JRS is already looking at medium-term support needs, such as long-term shelter support, alongside more immediate needs such as the provision of food and healthcare. 

In Southeast Europe: preparing from the “second line”.

Taking into account the experience of the Crimean Crisis in 2014, JRS in Southeast Europe (Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia) is also preparing into receive some Ukrainian refugees if the conflict persists. The contingency plan is prepared, including the search for possible accommodation in families, parishes and Jesuit houses. Relevant contacts are being established with government authorities and municipalities, such as the city of Zagreb in Croatia, to be prepared with a hospitality-based response in case of need. 

YOU CAN SUPPORT HERE THE ACTION OF JRS WITH PEOPLE DISPLACED BY THE WAR IN UKRAINE.

Report “Immigrant origin population in Spain, 2021”

We publish the annual report ‘Immigrant origin population in Spain, 2021’. A demographic analysis, in the light of official data, of foreign and foreign-born population in Spain and its evolution during the last decade. This time the analysis delves into the consequences that Brexit has had on the population groups of British nationality in Spain, as well as the impact of the closure of international borders during 2020. 

At the beginning of 2021, the foreign-born population accounted for 15.22% of the total population in Spain (7,214,878 people out of the total population of 47,398,695), according to data from the National Statistics Institute. In terms of population with fixed residence, the percentage of foreign residents was 11.33%. 

The variation of total resident population figures had a positive sign: 66,081 more people. A figure lower than the year-on-year variation of almost 400,000 people between 2019 and 2020, but which points to the consolidation of the recovery of migratory figures initiated in 2015, although indicating a moment of clear deceleration. 

In 2020 in which the Spanish population balance was very negative, due to the higher number of deaths compared to births, also as a consequence of the impact of covid-19, the migratory balance amounted to 219,357, much higher than that of the total resident population. 

The Permanent Observatory of Immigration, an entity belonging to the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, estimates that there are 5,800,468 foreigners holding residence permits. A higher figure than those reported by the INE, perhaps explained by the number of people who in practice do not reside in Spain. 

The Brexit has had a clear effect on the foreign population of EU origin: a decrease of more than 300,000 people with citizenship from other EU member states. 

In addition to observing a slowdown in migratory movements in Spain, there has been a significant increase in the resident population born in Colombia (the largest group with an increase of more than 40,000 people). This is followed by those born in Venezuela (more than 30,000), Morocco (more than 22,000) and Honduras (more than 15,000). Peru, Argentina, Nicaragua and Brazil also showed a positive sign. 

Returns of unaccompanied minors to Morocco must be immediately halted by the Spanish Government.

In view of the returns being carried out since August 13th to Morocco of unaccompanied foreign minors under the guardianship of Ceuta, the Jesuit Migrant Service is concerned about the violation of children’s rights that this may entail. For this reason, it requests the Spanish Government to halt all pending returns until the competent institutions have analyzed the circumstances of each minor. 

Any unaccompanied foreign child or adolescent, due to his or her minority, is protected by a series of national, European and international child protection regulations. The competent organizations responsible for their administrative guardianship and the public prosecutor’s office must ensure that any action taken respects the best interests of the minor. The repatriation of a minor has such an impact on his or her vital circumstances that the law establishes a procedure that is particularly protective of his or her interests. 

SJM joins the public statements of the Ombudsman of Spain, the General Council of Spanish Lawyers and various organizations defending human rights and working with migrant children,  to denounce important indications of violation or our legal system by the Government of Spain to carry out these days the repatriation of minors under guardianship by Ceuta. 

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”.

We publish our report “Focusing our gaze: towards a holistic model of hospitality that puts people at the centre”

With the arrival of Covid-19, EU Member States began to take measures to limit contagion: confinement, social distance, restrictions on national and international mobility… These measures had direct consequences on applicants for international protection, as JRS Europe analyses in its report From Bad to Worse: Covid-19 Deepens the Gaps in Refugee Reception Systems, a publication that studies the impact of Covid-19 on reception conditions for refugees.

In the case of Spain, we recognise elements in common with those presented at the European level, although we identify particularities related to the specific policies adopted in Spain to mitigate the health crisis, as well as coinciding with the process of transformation of our reception system. In this context, we asked ourselves: What contributions can SJM make to a new model of reception, and what lessons learned could be added to the model?

This reflection gave rise to our report “Focusing our Gaze”, where we offer the lessons learned from the European study and SJM’s vision of the reception system in Spain: where it should be heading and our vision of how it is responding to people in need of protection. Finally, we will present our proposal for a community model, through sponsorship and the network of hospitality communities.

Download the full report here

SJM Valencia Migrant Women, Rozalén and “Aves Enjauladas”

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the release of the song “Aves Enjauladas”, singer-songwriter and activist Rozalén and Beatriz Romero, her sign language interpreter, travelled to Valencia to visit the families and groups of migrant women at risk of social exclusion of the Jesuit Migrant Service-Valencia, supported by Entreculturas.

In April 2020, in the midst of confinement, Rozalén gave us hope in the form of a song. Her solidarity song “Aves enjauladas” (Caged birds) has been, throughout this year, a symbol of solidarity and optimism that highlights the lessons learned in the time of Covid “to return with more strength”.

“I really wanted to come and meet you. When the song came out, many people were having a really bad time and I thought it wasn’t fair for me to keep it, so I spoke to Entreculturas and told them that I would like to connect it with what is happening close to us, also here in Spain. That’s when they told me about this Jesuit Migrant Service project. Thank you to all of you who make this possible, it has been very exciting and I never stop learning from the struggle of so many incredible women like you”, explained Rozalén during her meeting with the women.

One of the most moving moments of the meeting took place when the women performed a short play based on their own life stories: Mujeres Migradas (Migrated Women). A script written by the women themselves that reflects the struggle and strength of so many migrant women (you can download the full script here).

The funds raised from the more than 5 million plays of the song have gone to support the Jesuit Migrant Service’s network of shelters for families, women and children in vulnerable situations, specifically the network of four shelters located in Valencia that form part of the Hospitality project. “Aves Enjauladas serves and has served as a symbol, and the families have understood this. This song was reflected in help and joy for many families,” shared Angélica Zuluaga, a psychologist at SJM Valencia.

Mustafa Mohamed, Director of SJM Valencia, said that “Aves enjauladas has been a breath of fresh air for the organisation. We are committed to the integration of migrants, one of the most vulnerable groups in society, and we work along several lines, such as programmes aimed at supporting migrant women, who are a particularly vulnerable group. Many have been left practically homeless or have very little support from the administration, which is why it has been a particularly hard year”.

Currently, SJM Valencia’s shelters have a total of 12 families, 13 of whom are women and 15 children and adolescents, mainly migrants, whose socio-economic status has been severely affected by the pandemic. “One of the things I feel most identified with in the song, perhaps because of the process I came from, is when she says: “I darned my little cloths” of courage, of valuing… It wasn’t easy for me, I never thought I would have to migrate, to see myself forced to do it. This group has really helped me to darn my little cloth”, says Tanya Picón, from the group “Mujeres Reconstruyendo Historias”. Through music, families and women like Tanya have access to food, help with their children’s education, medicines and clothes. For these families, the shelter flats have become their most faithful home and support in these times of great uncertainty.

With the funds raised, the accompaniment of the families has been reinforced so that they can continue with their process in the midst of this uncertain context caused by the pandemic. Spaces of mutual support have been created for women where they can share experiences, claim their rights and make visible the reality they live as migrant women in search of a better future. In addition, it is hoped that with the new normality, the integrative ecology garden project, an initiative that cares for, accompanies and integrates women both with themselves and with their environment, will be taken up again.

“Caged Birds” is already a hymn of hope that speaks of what we live. It metaphorically describes the respect and awareness of everyone to do great things with very small details and has generated a great network of solidarity. As Rozalén sang in the flats, “it’s time that what belongs to others and what belongs to oneself matter equally” and when all this is over, let us always remember the lessons learned during the confinement to collectively build a better world.