Illegal immigration is the key theme of a debate in the Spanish parliament on the state of the nation. Nearly 9,000 people have attempted to enter the country illegally this year so far, double the number who tried for the same period last year.
Despite stepping up patrols, Spain’s Socialist government is struggling to contain the flow. But Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero says Madrid is working with several other African countries, notably Mauritania and Senegal, in order to obtain the same drastic reductions that it has had by cooperating with Morocco.
In the latest incident yesterday, more than 700 illegal immigrants tried to land on Spain’s Canary Islands. Spain’s long-tolerant attitude to immigration seems to be hardening amid daily news of the arrival of African boat people. A recent poll suggests 70 percent of Spaniards think the government’s amnesty for more than 600,000 illegal immigrants last year has prompted the five-fold increase in the number of Africans who make the dangerous voyage.