Monday, May 10, 2010

Another story about a local immigration law—in Spain!

Spain, a new country of immigration, has experienced for over a decade now a large scale migrant influx from Africa, South America and Eastern Europe. At the national level, the Spanish government has enacted various measures to address its immigrant population, ranging from regularizaciones or amnesties a few years ago to voluntary return plans most recently, following the economic downturn.

Despite these efforts, subnational and local governments in Spain have also gotten involved in immigration law and policy as well. The latest version of this phenomenon took place in Catalonia just last month. On April 29th, the Parlament de Catalunya, which is the unicameral legislature of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, approved a new measure regarding immigrants. Entitled “Ley de Acogida de Inmigrantes,” (Law to Welcome Immigrants), it sets up an Catalonian Agency of Migration and a standardized process by which immigrants can earn their “certificado de arraigo” (literally “certificate of having taken root.”) These certificates are essential for obtaining work permits and legal residency. In the past, the issuance of these certificates had been left up to each locality, and local officials often issued these arbitrarily. The law also includes voluntary educational opportunities for immigrants to learn the Catalan language and other subjects, to show their arraigo, or that they have taken root in their new country.

It is refreshing to see an example of an immigration law that actually addresses the needs of immigrants and recognizes the contributions they can make, even in these difficult economic times.

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