a demonstration organized by Sos Racismo in front

of a detention center in Valencia. Credit: NGO Sos Racismo
a demonstration organized by Sos Racismo in front of a detention center in Valencia. Credit: NGO Sos Racismo

Over 65 percent of undocumented migrants hosted in Spain's seven detention centers in 2017 have not been repatriated, according to data provided by the Spanish interior ministry.

Overall, according to the data requested by the Senate, a total of 8,837 foreigners were taken to the centers. Out of this number, 3,041 were repatriated to their home country while the rest - 5,796 people, or 65.5 percent - were freed because it was not possible to expel them, according to the report.

The migrants were not expelled because, among other causes, it was impossible to determine their country of origin within a maximum of 60 days established by the law, there were no bilateral accords with their home country or they were vulnerable - minors, human trafficking victims or asylum seekers.

Most repatriations to Morocco

For this reason, according to the data, forced repatriations varied significantly depending on the nationality of migrants. A reported 90 percent of those who were repatriated after staying at a center hailed from Morocco (1,607), a country with which Spain cooperates closely on immigration, while only one Ivory Coast citizen was repatriated out of 1,215 who stayed at centers in the country.

''Our model of migration policy is not working'', stressed Podemos spokesperson Maribel Mora, talking to radio Cadena Ser. Out of 18,000 expulsion procedures that were opened in 2017 for undocumented migrants, ''only 10 percent were carried out'', she said.

Undocumented migrants

A reported 18,081 procedures to expel undocumented migrants were approved although only 1,363 expulsion decrees were carried out. The majority of those who were expelled came from Morocco (4,019 people), Colombia (1,252) and Algeria (771).

Also, out of 2,026 expulsion orders for security reason approved in 2017, only 816 were carried out.

'Juridical limbo'

Last week the Senate voted against an initiative promoted by Unidos Podemos which urged the government to adopt concrete measures to prevent irregular migrants from being stranded in a ''juridical limbo'' if they could not be repatriated nor legalized.

Overall, according to data published by the interior ministry, last year a total of 4,054 foreigners were forcibly expatriated, 1,000 less than in 2016 when 5,051 were forced to leave the country. However, a record 22,103 landed by sea on 1,280 boats, according to official data released by the government.


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