Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs : Canary Islands Immigrants Come for Work, Not Asylum

Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs : Canary Islands Immigrants Come for Work, Not Asylum

Article excerpt

The roughly 9,000 migrants landing on the Canary Islands' shores each year are mostly economic migrants, not asylum-seekers, a delegation of MEPs has concluded. "Migrants told us they were prepared to make the sacrifice of leaving their families because they have nothing at home", says Jean Lambert (Greens, UK) in her newly unveiled report on the 7-10 June visit. The islands are one of the hotspots in the wave of illegal immigration hitting the Mediterranean region, the others being Malta, Ceuta, Melilla and Lampedusa, which MEPs have also visited.

THE PATH TO EUROPE

The delegation went to three migrant detention centres - Las Raices and Hoya Fria in Tenerife and El Matorral in Fuerteventura - and met with governmental authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). They learned that the migrants mostly come from Senegal, with only 15% coming from countries at war like Sierra Leone or Ivory Coast. The Moroccan authorities have tightened up their borders since September 2005, when about ten immigrants trying to reach the neighbouring Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla were shot dead. Consequently, the Canary Islands is the new path to Europe.

The migrants said they had come on little wooden boats carrying about 80-90 people and had "contributed" to the cost of the boat, although they denied that traffickers helped them. MEPs found conditions in the islands' detention centres better than those in Malta. …

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