46,426 illegal immigrants living in Spain were repatriated in 2008 and the Government claims its policies to deter the arrival of illegal immigrants in boats from Northern Africa are working.
The number of immigrants reaching the coast of the Canary Islands dropped by 26.4% in 2008. Just 13,424 illegal immigrants reached the coast of the Canary Islands in 2008 compared to 18,000 recorded in 2007. Yesterday, the Home Office Minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, said that he was satisfied with the figures saying that ‘hardly anybody got in without being seen’.
The drop in the number of illegal immigrants arriving in Spain is especially significant for the Canary Islands after the number of immigrants arriving there by boat peaked at 31,678 in 2006.
As a consequence of the reduction in the number of small boats intercepted by coast guards the number of repatriations has also gone down from 55,938 in 2007 to 46,426 in 2008. The Home Office attributes the decrease to agreements made with the countries of origin of many illegal immigrants.
Rubalcaba said that ‘now fewer arrive and more leave’ in reference to the number of illegal immigrants who are repatriated. However, the number of forced deportations for illegal residence in Spain rose by 12% last year.
Out of the total number of repatriations (46,426) more than 17,000 correspond to those sent back at the border, generally airports and ports. This figure shows a decrease of 29% with respect to the figure for 2007. The Home Office attributes this decrease to the fall in employment opportunities in Spain.
Currently Spain is one of the main beneficiaries from EU funds to help with immigration with more than 131 million euros destined for Spain until 2010.