Unaccompanied minor migrants from Mali look on during an interview at the center managed by Coliseo Association in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, 16 February 2021 | Photo: EPA/Miguel Barreto
Unaccompanied minor migrants from Mali look on during an interview at the center managed by Coliseo Association in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, 16 February 2021 | Photo: EPA/Miguel Barreto

One minor migrant out of five in Spain is undocumented, according to a report by the NGO Save the Children with the Por Causa Foundation. It said there are nearly 147,000 undocumented minors in Spain, based on the most recent statistics, which are from 2019.

The number of undocumented migrants under the age of 19 in Spain in 2019 was nearly 147,000, practically equally divided between males and females, according to the report "Growing Up Undocumented in Spain" (in Spanish), by the Por Causa Foundation and Save the Children.

The report said the number represents one foreign minor in five registered in city registries for that age group.

Over half younger than 10

The report "highlights the invisibility of undocumented migrant children and adolescents in Spain, which has a 20.4% rate of irregularity."

The study divides the undocumented child and adolescent population by age groups: 55,327 are between zero and four years old, 28,441 are between five and nine years old, 22,268 are between 10 and 14 years old, and 40,738 are between 15 and 19 years old.

The weight of these groups on the total migrant population is, respectively: 37.7%, 19.4%, 15.2% and 27.8%.

The report said nearly 70% of the minor migrants come from Latin America, in particular from countries such as Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela and Perù.

The rate of undocumented migrants among migrant children and adolescents has grown progressively since 2014, following a declining trend of nearly 10 years.

One of the main causes of this increase is the constant growth in Latin American asylum seekers, which has grown 20 times higher in five years. The majority of the requests are denied, which leaves many families in a vulnerable administrative situation, said Save the Children and Por Causa.

'Legalise to resolve vulnerabilities'

"The most fundamental rights of children of foreign origin are violated every day due to their immigrant status and that of their parents," the report said.

"Legalising the administrative situation of these families constitutes a simple and direct opportunity to mitigate this extreme vulnerability. And, as we have also shown, it would have positive fiscal results for Spanish society as a whole," it said.

"As other countries have done, which are in similar situations to ours due to their economic and political context -- from Portugal, Italy and France, to Canada and the United States -- Spain can take advantage of the situation opened by the coronavirus crisis to propose exceptional measures to solve exceptional problems.

"Legalisation can be preceded or accompanied by a series of measures that reduce the vulnerability of children and families in an irregular situation, but its relevance is hardly questionable in this case. A few very simple measures can have considerable positive effects. The issue is not whether to legalise about 146,000 migrant boys and girls in our country, but when and how it will be done," the report said.

 

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