Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Spain starts illegal immigration amnesty

Spain starts illegal immigration amnesty

Spain starts illegal immigration amnesty

07.02.2005 - 18:10 CET

By Honor Mahony

EUOBSERVER/BRUSSELS - Madrid's decision to grant an amnesty to illegal immigrants living and working in the country is set to have consequences well beyond Spain.

The amnesty, which is likely to affect up to one million immigrants, began on Monday (7 February).

Over the coming three months, Madrid will accept applications from immigrants who can prove that they have been in Spain for at least six months and who have a job.

The government's aim is to get some control over the country's illegal immigration problem.

But Madrid's move could have consequences for the rest of Europe as granting Spanish residency to the immigrants means that they would have the right to live and work anywhere in the European Union.

Its decision has caused anger in some other capitals.

'Those affected can simply travel further to France or Germany', said German interior minister Otto Schily.

'We should have first examined what consequences this initiative would have for the rest of Europe', he added.

He was backed up by Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk.

The European Commission, which is pushing for common rules in this area, said Spain was within its rights to introduce these measures.


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