The three-month amnesty granted by the government to illegal residents in Spain ended last night at nine p.m. Spanish Labour Minister, Jesus Caldera, told the press that during the three months almost 700,000 immigrants have applied for legal residence and work permits.
Caldera said the process had been a great success. According to his calculations, once all the applications have been resolved, the government’s amnesty will have legalized the employment of between 80 and 90 percent of illegal immigrant workers, meaning that employers would no longer be able to dodge tax and national insurance payments. He said the fact that the process had succeeded in revealing and regulating a large proportion of the hidden economy should be considered as a great achievement not just of the Spanish government but of the whole of Spanish society. So far 200,000 immigrants have received their permits.
Jesus Caldera also took advantage of the last day of the amnesty to remind Spaniards that from now on employment inspectors would be “inflexible” in their pursuit and prosecution of employers who have failed to take advantage of the three months to legalise the situation of their immigrant employees.
Tomorrow the Labour Ministry launches a new work inspection plan to fight the hidden economy during which over 200,000 visits will be made by work inspectors to places of work in different sectors. Traditionally the sectors most likely to employ immigrants without legal papers are agriculture (seasonal picking), construction, tourism and domestic labour.