Spain’s new Socialist government will accept 600 migrants after Italy turns asylum seekers away
As reported by the BBC, the new Socialist government of Spain will welcome migrants from three ships that rescued 630 people hailing from around 26 different countries, including Eritrea, South Sudan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. According to officials, the migrants have among them some 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children under the age of 13 and 7 pregnant women.
Spain has already promised to restore its policy of free healthcare for migrants who are not yet citizens of Spain, and Red Cross officials say that the initial goal for the migrants is to have them receive food and hygiene kits, while the pregnant women will be taken for check-ups and everyone on board a ship will receive psychological help.
One of the ships, the Aquarius, received extra media attention last week when Italy’s right wing, populist government took a hard line against immigration, much like the American president is currently doing, and refused to allow the ship to dock in any Italian ports. This raised eyebrows with the international diplomacy community and prompted the Valencia mayor Joan Ribo to call the Italian government’s response “inhuman.”
Ribo also speculated that one of the major focuses of the European Union’s upcoming meetings will be some kind of immigration reform, due to massive numbers of migrants moving throug the member countries.
According to the New York Times, the migrants in Spain will be granted a 45 day humanitarian permit while their cases are reviewed and they receive medical attention. Those who do not meet the criteria required to receive asylum will face deportation and the rest are still subject to immigration procedures at Spanish police stations. French president Emmanuel Macron announced that France is also willing to open its borders to those who are seeking asylum and those who wish to settle in France instead of Spain, even though France’s immigration policy is extremely conservative.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tells the New York Times his decision to allow the migrants into Spain was an “obligation to avoid a human catastrophe.” However, the Italian Interior Minister and the leader of the anti-immigrant League Matteo Salvini castigated Sanchez’s response and posted on his Facebook page: “two other ships with the flag of Netherlands — Lifeline and Seefuchs — have arrived off the coast of Libya, waiting for their load of human beings abandoned by the smugglers… These gentlemen know that Italy no longer wants to be complicit in the business of illegal immigration, and therefore will have to look for other ports (not Italian) where to go.”