On a campaign poster, Spanish far-right party Vox falsely claimed that unaccompanied underage migrants receive ten times as much state aid as pensioners. Now prosecutors are looking into whether Vox committed a hate crime.
To drum up support in the upcoming regional election, the far-right party Vox installed posters in a busy Madrid subway station, saying that unaccompanied foreign migrant minors received "€4,700 a month", while "your grandmother's pension" was only "€426 a month." These claims sparked outrage among many in Spain.
Several politicians from governing left-leaning parties filed complaints with the provincial prosecutor of Madrid, which has opened an investigation.
According to Spanish daily El Pais, both the Socialist Party (PSOE), the senior partner in Spain's coalition government, as well as two ministers from the co-governing Unidas Podemos -- Equality Minister Irene Montero and Social Affairs Minister Ione Belarra -- filed complaints against Vox over the billboard, which they consider to be a hate crime.
In a press conference, Belarra called the billboard "an absolute criminalization of the boys and girls who migrate alone."
Catholic charity Caritas as well as Save the Children and UNICEF also criticized the poster in a joint statement and asked Madrid's electoral board investigate if Vox broke the law.
Claims highly misleading
The billboard's claims are highly misleading, Spanish media reports found. A majority of public funds spent on underage unaccompanied minors in Spain do not go to the migrants themselves, but to organizations that work in various reception programs.
"There is no office that gives minors arriving without a guardian €4,700 to spend on whatever they want," a source at the Madrid Department of Social Policy and Family Affairs told El Pais.
According to figures from the regional authorities, there are 269 unaccompanied minors in region of Madrid in the care of the government. There were 1,903 spots at centers for minors in the care of the state (this includes both Spanish and foreign minors) in the Madrid area in 2020, which cost a total of €96.1 million, reported El Pais. This would mean that the average cost per spot is €4,208. The costs, however, do vary from center to center though, based on the services offered.
Vox's anti-migrant platform
Vox is a far-right party founded in 2013. It is currently the third-largest party in Spain's parliament. Anti-migrant policies are a key part of the party's platform.
On May 4, voters in Madrid will elect a new regional assembly. The region is currently controlled by a coalition led by the center-right People's Party (PP), which is leading in polls. Because PP is not expected to get a majority of over 50%, however, Vox -- which is polling at around 10% -- could play a key kingmaker role after the election.