Just want to throw up a few posts that got had been lost in my archives (I have a really sophistcated filing system you see-so sophisticated it may be a bit over my head at times). Anywho, here goes:

For context, immigrants are now about 10% of the population in Spain (about 16% in Madrid where I live). So I was interested in this article criticizing Spain’s record on granting nationality to immigrants. A recent study, publiched by the European Community and the British Council, rated immigrant’s quality of life in various European countries. Spain came in 10th, about in the middle, so it’s not too bad. Sweden came out on top (surprise-link to old post).

According to this article Spain’s strong point was access to the labor market (which I read as saying “you can get away with working without papers here”) and its weakpoints were difficulty of “access to nationality and the lack of a guarantee of equal opportunitites in economic, social and public life.” One of the authors of the study comments that it’s very difficult to integrate immigrant populations that don’t have access to nationality and therefore can’t participate in elections.

So, it’s difficult to get nationality, but my question is why? And I think one spokesman for an ecuadorian immigrants’ association quoted int eh article hints at a problem seldom discussed formally: he said that discrimination in public services is part of the problem. He says “There are obstables in public administration, in health services, and in the access to public jobs.” 

Tell me about it! I know from personal experience that it is totally possible for an immigrant (a well-educated immigrant with a good level of Spanish and access to legal council) to remain uninformed, partially informed or activley misinformed as to their rights as immigrants and the processes by which they can become legal. People working in many public offices often appear to be barely informed of essential pieces of information pertaining to their own fields of work. I have heard many stories (and have a couple myself) of people getting legal advice (that is, from lawyers, you know, that they are paying) that turned out to be false, sometimes to the extent that their legal status is jeaopardized or revoked – we’re not talking little slip-ups here, in the states these folks wouldn’t be practicing long.

When I talk to other immigrants frustrated by Spanish immigration bureaucracy, the general concsensus is that it’s not poorly designed, it’s brilliantly designed! – to make sure you have to jump as many hurdles as possible to get basic information and to create as many opportunities as possible for them to disqualify you on a technicality.

Of course, I’m ony talking anecdotally and it would be great to have a real study of these obstacles, but it’s a valid concern. If a country complains that it’s immigrant population isn’t integrated, well, they have to take a better look at immigrants’ access to public institutions and services. If those vias of access are labyrinthine and obscure, someone needs to look into cleaning them up a bit ( or even a lot).