19th May 2024
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Spain to debate granting residency to some 500,000 undocumented immigrants

The Spanish Congress is to consider legislation that could grant residency and work permits to nearly half a million foreigners living in Spain without proper documentation.

The proposal was brought to the parliament in Madrid by citizen initiative after it obtained more than 700,000 signatures and the backing of some 900 organisations, from migrant rights groups to Catholic associations.

MPs voted 310-33 to accept the proposal for consideration, with only the far-right Vox party voting against it. The legislation will now begin making its way through the lower house of parliament where it will be extensively debated and likely amended before its final version.

The bill would grant legal status to foreigners who arrived in Spain before 1 November 2021, including hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Latin America and Africa. The law would not only allow them to live and work in Spain legally but also enable them to pay taxes, contribute to Social Security, and access healthcare, education and other public services.

Between 390,000 to 470,000 foreigners live irregularly in Spain according to those who started the initiative. Many survive by working in the underground economy as fruit pickers, caretakers, delivery drivers, or other low-paid but essential jobs shunned by Spaniards. Without legal protections, they are often vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

The bill seeks to end a lack of visibility for the migrants, and grant them equal rights.

At the same time, Spain’s government announced this week it plans to scrap so-called ‘golden visas’ that allow wealthy people from outside the European Union to obtain residency permits after investing more than half a million euros in property. ALSO READ: Spain to scrap ‘golden visas’ that allow wealthy non-EU residents to obtain residency.

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