April 27, 2012

Immigrants Rights and Policy in Spain

Allana Marshik, Advisor: Leila DeVriese

The global population of immigrants has exploded in recent years, and this has led to the question of what is the best method to respond to large influxes of immigrants? Many countries have struggled with this because immigrants can have a profound effect on the country in which they settle. Depending on the immigration policy of the host country, immigrants can have a negative or positive impact. A policy that positively affects immigrants, i.e., facilitates their settlement, integration and functionality in society, will positively affect the host country. A policy that has a negative effect such as loss of human rights and agency results in immigrants who cannot contribute to society, negatively impacting the host country. Many different ideas have arisen in an attempt to solve this question. Multiculturalism is one of the ideas that has had a large impact on the way that people think about immigration policy. Using a literature review as well as interviews and surveys taken while abroad in Spain, this paper will examine the case of Spain and the way in which the Spanish government has responded to its growing immigrant population. The Spanish government has created La Ley de Extranjería (Aliens Act) that guarantees specific rights to immigrants. These rights range from basic human rights to political, social and economic rights. This paper will examine the history of the Act and the history of multiculturalism and other policies designed to manage immigrants. The overarching question this paper poses is whether or not La Ley de Extranjería is a positive, effective immigration policy? This paper argues that, while La Ley de Extranjería has its flaws, it is an effective policy that does not limit the agency or rights of immigrants.