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Immigration concern in Spain is something that the government started in 1985; It was one of the government agendas but it was not implemented till 1990s that the issues raised the eyebrows of most of the Spanish citizens and the political class (Suman 2007). The influx of foreigners was overwhelming and there was need for laws that could govern the flow of immigrants into the country. Several legislations were instated including imposing labor quota system of the year 2002; though the issue subjected to strong opposition from different quotas.
The history of migration in Spain is dated back to mid 19th centaury where the industrial revolution was on its course. The Spaniards used to visit the American to find job; they migrated to the American settlers farms mostly in the South American countries that included Brazil and Argentina (Suman 2007). Others migrated to the northern Africa through Mediterranean Sea with most of them headed to Algeria and Morocco, the result was that Spain colony over Morocco. Migration of the Spaniards was influenced by several issues that witnessed changes in the direction if immigration to different quotas. Early in the 20th centaury, most of the Spaniards were not in their own country with most of them migrating to the northern America (Suman 2007). The trends changed in mid 20th centaury with most of the Spanish emigrants choosing the northern Europe. Later in the centaury, the rate of emigrants had gone down and it was them who received immigrants(Suman 2007).
Most of the immigrants received in Spain were mainly from the Latin America and north of Africa but some from other European countries migrated to Spain after their retirement. As the emigrants decreased, it was time for the immigrants to double their numbers (Beitter 2007). The large immigrations number was fuelled by the economic crisis that had most of the European countries and the America. Emigrants kept on decreasing reaching lower every year while the number of immigrants flow was steadily increasing.
In late 1980s, the economic crisis had hit high with most of the worker working in most of the European industrialized countries such as Germany and France were rendered jobless. Spain was among the major host of these workers as they head back to their motherland mostly in northern Africa and Latin America. As some were heading back, others were heading to Europe to find jobs but it was unfortunate that perennial employing nations had closed their territories therefore forcing some to go back but most of them remained in Spain (Suman 2007). Other reasons that made Spain the immigration centre was because the change in labor part tens in the European countries and the subsequent inauguration of Spain one of the European countries. Therefore it made the major gate route as it was in a strategic position for entry and exit of immigrants to Europe.
The figure of the immigrants was steadily after the economic recess in most of the European countries, a steady increase was being witnessed yearly until the year when tough legislation was made to cope with ever increasing immigrants from North Africa which was leading followed by Latin America (Izquierdo 2007). The trend of the immigrants was that they unwilling to leave to their countries or move out of Spain but if at all they moved out, the number that left was almost an equivalent that of influx. It was the trends that made the Spanish government to intervene by imposing labor regulation.
The labor in Spain during high immigration rate was at it par therefore they formed a net cheap labor that could enable the Spanish select from a variety of labor. Nevertheless, the foreigners had to work conditionally that they were supplied with the work permit first before acquiring a job. Contribution of the migrants to the Spanish economic has got mixed results (Beitter 2007). In one way it has raised the economy but in the other way, they are backtracking the economy since planning for the instability of the economy could be expensive. The government of Spain used the ethnic segmentation as the reason for protecting its citizens from the outsiders but it received sharp criticism from the media. Across Europe most of the foreign workers were employed in the service industry though it varied across different countries due where in other countries, the Africa was the major sector employing the foreigners.
Under the European legislations on immigration, Spain was forced to comply with restriction of foreign citizens from accessing the EU labor markets easily. It was only the non EU citizens present in the country then exempted and their rights as citizens of the respective countries. The EU kept tough rules on foreigners and in the process cutting down the immigrants into the continent. Several laws were practiced including the Plan Greco (Suman 2007). The law emphasized on the foreign immigrants and the resident immigrants within the European Union and precisely Spain. The law required a law globally controlled immigration as the solution to the immigration problem that faced immigration in Spain. The laws also acknowledged involvement of non immigrants within the country to be given necessary treatment like other citizens in Spain and their contribution to the nation to be acknowledged. It also pointed out the importance of fair treatment of the foreigners and the integration of the society from both the natives and the foreigners. Refugees were also on the eye with law requiring the government to cater for shelter and the basic needs for foreigners who were forced by circumstances to plea their homeland.
Immigration a threat to the Spain and EU
Immigration is an important factor especially to countries that have low population and the labor market exceed the available human resource. Some countries depend on foreign labor force to accomplish its national labor stability. Some countries that are caused by the thread include France and Italy. Investment on labor without foreign force could cause cost of productivity with labor playing an important role. Availability of immigrants could bring down the cost of labor and also enough workforces. Immigrants are quite important especially to countries that have experienced low birth rate. Initially in Spain, the reason for encouraging immigration was to stabilize the birth rate considering that the immigrants were probably young people therefore it was a positive as they also provided the workforce that was needed in the country with low population like the Spain at that time(Beitter 2007).
The immigrants were also associated with work that the natives found it hard to attend to. But nevertheless the scenario changed in Spain as the population increased while the country stabilized in labor and in the society (Izquierdo 2007). Migration was continuous therefore threatening to surpass the population that the country could cater for through its nation policies, the labor market faced instability problem and finally threatening to bring down the economy through high unemployment rate and labor turnover. Citing the problem, many European countries resulted in initiation laws that could govern immigration to Europe. Spain later joined the European Union as a member and was also bound to the strict rules against illegal immigrants (Beitter 2007).
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The impact that could have cost the European Union over uncontrolled migration could have been have been adverse therefore forcing the European Union to impose strict and tight issues laws over the matter. Due to high migration rate, the economy could have suffered several blows such unemployment (Suman 2007). The country could have suffered poor development of labor due to high labor turnover and also the possibility of unbalanced labor markets where some professions could have got more labor than others. Willingness of the immigrants to get any employment and also low pay could have cost the natives more jobs therefore reducing economy of the country.
The country could also suffer from low interest rates basically from the business basics, when the mobility is high, there is high possibility that some of the immigrants could have involve themselves in scum by departing the country therefore making it impossible for financial sectors to secure finances the owe. Accumulation of jobless people due to high labor market could cost the government a lot in terms of productivity ratio of its citizens and the Gross Domestic Product (Suman 2007).
Unskilled immigrants find their way to the Spanish territory by an intensive and massive flow of illegal and legal immigrants. Understanding the scenario, the immigrants could be moving in masses therefore making it to contain or maintain effects of new immigrants where it becomes had for employers to trains its workers (OECD 2005). The move destabilizes the labor market completely. The cost of sustaining labor could be high due their mobility ratio and the skill that these immigrants have. There is a probability that employers prefer the immigrants from the citizens due to their intensive flexibility and tolerable wages requirements (Suman 2007).
Immigration is an expensive scenario to cater for. While planning, there is a possibility that more immigrants’ floods in which cold could be crucial in providing tolerance. It is not healthy if the tolerance is high as it causes figures that are imprecise therefore proving low economic growth (OECD 2005).
According to statistics, the issue of immigrants going to Spain is a factor of the framework of the increased international human resources flow. The country has since 1980s become a host for immigrants from different countries though the foreigners still remains a mere minority of the total Spanish population. As the number of immigrants increased based on the illegal immigration, Spain had to move and control the situation and this could only be achieved by getting to know the exact number of immigrants in the country and this was the reason behind the announcement of general amnesty in the year 2005 for all illegal immigrants to register themselves to the authority. In the year 2006, the country allowed people from the European Union by providing them with an opportunity to work in Spain. As a result, the nationals of EA have to go for a workmate permit for them to work in Spain as long as they had secured a job. Others wishing to join the labor force of the country must apply for a work permit in the country.
Spain is said to have housed more than three million foreigners and based on the fact that the total population is about 44 million, this is indeed a big percentage. In fact, at the late that the immigrants are going into the country. This could reach the United States rate of foreigners which stands at about 12.9 %. This is quite a big number of foreigners and as the number increased, the government as well as the citizens got concerned and this was because there were those people of the opinion that this had negative effects but with a close study of the economic as well as social impacts on the country, the discussion below will prove that the immigrants in Spain have done more good than harm. The discussion features both positive and negative impacts of immigration in Spain.
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Economic and social impacts of immigration on Spain
The immigration into Spain has had a number of impacts and one is the economic impacts. Initially the immigration policy aimed at the recruitment of manpower to fill the labor market positions as well as seeking some flexibility that would reduce the cost of labor in a number of sectors. As a result the policy seemed to benefit the employers mostly based on the fact the local labor was becoming expensive. However, the government of Spain has taken a sequence of inventiveness to legalize the position of unlawful immigrants, even as the trade unions have made public their supportive attitudes in regard to immigrant workers who have mounted promotions to boost their social assimilation (Aitor 2008).
One of the major effects that were realized as a result of the immigrants in Spain was the demographic effects associated with immigration. This is a common phenomenon in the Western European nations which results to a notable population ageing. It should be noted that the population of Spain faced a dramatic decline due to the limited birthrates in the country. Between 1965-1985, the birthrates in the country had reduced by a very big margin though this is not a new thing; it has increased significantly as a result of the post-war baby boom as well as the baby burst that pursued it. In Spain, the baby boom generation is getting old and the fertility rates are very low and this is bound to increase the ratio of the elderly people from as low as 16.94% which was recorded in the year 2004 to about 35.6% by 2050 (Aitor 2008). This is because the majority of the immigrants are young people as compared to the locals.
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The other effect that the immigrants have is regarding the labor market. Despite creating a huge supply shock of labor in Spain, the immigrants are also said to have changed the skill composition of the workforce as well as the operation of the labor market. Being a production factor that surrogates the low skilled local workers but this is harmonizing for both local high skilled and physical capital (Maravall, A & Ana del, 2007). The bargaining power of the immigrants is low and as a result their wages are much lower and this is threatening to the local people who are faced with this kind of competition in the job market (Raquel et al 2008).
Productivity as well as long run growth is another factor that is affected by the immigration. The labor productivity has decreased significantly in some major countries in Europe including Spain (Aitor 2008). Based on the fact that immigrants are usually employed in the labor intensive sectors of the economy that have productivity that lags below the average rates, the portion of the reduced growth can be associated with the short-lived unconstructive composition effect. Nevertheless, the effect on productivity growth as might last for long based on the trends that the skill composition of the immigrants, the assimilation patterns, and the size of their future flows (Aitor 2008).
Despite the flow of immigrants the economy has not been hurt in a big manner because Spain has one of the best performing economies in Europe which stands at an average growth rate of around 3.1% in recent years (Raquel et al 2008). This is also the case for the European Union based on the fact that Spain has created more than 50% of the new jobs in the region since the year 2002. The rate of unemployment in the country has drastically reduced from around 20% in 1990s down to 8.6%. According to the government, the greater part of this astral performance can be attributed to these immigrants. This is the reason why Economic Policy Chief, Javier Valles, was quoted thanking the foreigners on behalf of the Prime minister, Jose Luis Zapateiro, for their contribution and working together with the country for a better economy (Raquel et al 2008).
In fact the thing that people need to worry is the fact that Spain appears as a bubble that waits to burst anytime (Gonzalez et al 2009). The construction industry accounts for more than 18 percent of the country’s economy and this is one of the major employers of immigrants in the country (Maravall, A & Ana del, 2007). However, the industry is declining at a noticeable rate despite its long boom that lasted for more than ten years. In case this decline steeps further, there is possibility of a social conflict arising though this has remained very minimal in the country for a very long time (Gonzalez et al 2009). One of the possible reasons for this is because the people in the industry would go to find employment someplace else. The social conflict can be intensified because most of the immigrants have similar culture and language as the Spanish people having come from European countries and the Spanish as well (Maravall, A & Ana del, 2007).
Besides the provision of man power in the construction industry, immigrants assist the Spanish population by taking care of the old and the children as well. As a result more women in Spain can be able to go to work away from home (Borjas 1999). This is a plus to the economy of the country based on the fact that majority of the population remains not idle and wherever they go to work they assist in building the economy of the country (Gonzalez et al 2009). Other area that these people have contributed is in the agricultural sector where they are assigned backbreaking works thus boosting the performance of the agricultural industry by far. The agricultural sector is one of the backbones of the economy of Spain with more than 15% of the country’s exports coming from the agricultural sector. The immigrants are employed in the farms that produce the olives, citrus fruits and vegetable among other crops and provide cheap labor to the farm owners and this is one of the major reasons why the farms are doing very well (Gonzalez et al 2009).
In general the immigrants have assisted so much in addressing the deficiency of employees in the areas with limited manual power such as the areas mentioned as well as in hotels to do the minimum wage chores that attract limited number of Spanish people. According to the government, the amount of money that the immigrants raise as tax as well as their contributions as social security goes high by more than 20% of their utilization cost of the public utilities. The immigrants also provide casual labor in the industrial sector and this is one of the major boosters of the economy that provides more than 30% of the nation’s GDP. Most of the natives in Spain do not like these kinds of jobs based on the fact that they are manual, tedious and low earning (Borjas 1999).