Government calls Rajoy’s proposal on immigration ‘opportunistic’
María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the Spanish Vice-President, has criticised the proposal on immigration put forward yesterday by Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the main opposition party in Spain.
His proposal, officially launched yesterday, includes ‘a contract of integration’ based upon certain rules such as respect for Spanish customs which immigrants would be forced to obey. It also includes rules such as forbidding female circumcision and respecting equality between the sexes, but it also refers to maintaining standards of “hygiene” which some groups have found rather offensive and others xenophobic.
When asked yesterday about Rajoy’s idea of a ‘contract of integration’ De la Vega said that many of the measures included in the contract were already covered by Spanish law. She went on to further criticise the leader of the PP saying that just a few days ago his party was talking about an economic catastrophe and now it was trying to stir up feelings on the subject of immigration.
She said that the contract not only asked immigrants to respect Spanish customs but also required immigrants to learn the Spanish language, to pay tax, make an effort to integrate into society and above all return to their country of origin if they do not find work. This could prove to be worrying for the construction and agriculture industries which both rely on immigrants to carry out low-paid jobs which can be temporary.
The proposal put forward by Rajoy is almost an exact copy of the contract that Nicolas Sarkozy introduced in France in 2004 when he was the Home Office Minister. His proposals also included respect for the French way of life and equality between sexes. Under the French system if an immigrant is found not to have followed these principles then they could lose out on welfare benefits or even be deported.
However according to some experts, Rajoy’s proposals have serious drawbacks such as not taking into account how long an immigrant has lived or worked in Spain and paid their taxes or social security. Under Rajoy’s system if they find themselves out of work they could face immediate deportation.
Josep Oliver, Professor of Applied Economics and an expert in the connections between the economy and immigration told Cadena Ser yesterday that two thirds of the jobs created in Spain have been ‘absorbed’ by immigration and that in his opinion immigrants are vital in order for Spain to continue its economic development and growth. He also pointed out that immigration was necessary to counter the drop in the growth of the Spanish population.