Immigration and social problems in Iberia

Spain and Portugal face an increasing wave of violence, which the authorities blame on the immigrants, as measures are taken to change the law to stem the tide. The increase in delinquency has started to cause social problems in Spain and has caused the Portuguese Parliament to alter the law on immigration.

Crime rose 10% in 2001 in Madrid, from 528 cases of violent robbery in 2000 to 812 last year, apart from the numerous cases which were not reported. 77% of the population blames the wave of delinquency on the immigrants, who arrive every day from Africa and South America.

Spanish Government spokesperson Francisco Javier Ansuategui declared that “around 70% of crimes committed in Madrid are related, directly or indirectly, to non-Spanish people”. It is estimated that Spain has some 1.5 million legal immigrants, amounting to around 4% of the population but the real figure, including the illegal immigrants, is likely to be nearer 10 to 15% of the population, a situation which is causing open debate in Spain, a country which welcomes foreigners, but provided that they fit in with the Spanish way of life.

In Portugal, an influx of over 100,000 immigrants from eastern Europe, mainly from the Ukraine and Moldavia, has brought with it an unprecedented wave of criminal gangs which specialise in kidnapping and extortion of their own countrymen, a practise which is especially despised by the Portuguese, since the notion that a person can exploit a fellow countryman abroad is alien to them.

After the recent Borman case, in which three Moldavians were sentenced to 18 and 15 years in jail, with confiscation of property, the Portuguese parliament is to make it illegal to enter the country without a valid work contract.


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