Spain announced new measures on February 1 to crack down on illegal aliens in the country, and to make it harder for non-EU visitors to get visas to enter Spain.
At the same time, Spain announced a plan to permit aliens who have spent at least six years in the country on temporary permits to become permanent residents, a liberalization pushed by unions and immigrant rights groups.
About one third of the 500,000 immigrants residing in Spain will be eligible for permanent-resident status, which allows them to have their children join them in Spain.
Spanish police announced on October 16 that they had broken up a network of Chinese restaurant owners who illegally smuggled 100 Chinese immigrants into the country over the past four years.
The immigrants were flown to Moscow, taken by train to Prague, smuggled across the border from the Czech Republic into Germany, and then taken to Spain. The illegal Chinese immigrants would work in restaurants, garment factories or in prostitution in conditions of semi-slavery.
Thousands of illegal immigrants arrive in Spain each year, paying up to 2,000 pounds for a trip from Africa to the southernmost point in Europe, the beach of Tarifa in Spain. Officials estimate the number of aliens arriving on Spain's southern shores at about 50,000 in 1995.
Once an illegal immigrant lands on Spanish soil, he cannot be sent them back to Morocco, because that country refuses boat people who may have embarked from there. Many of the aliens live in tents or hostels, where they are free to move about the country, but they cannot work.
"Spain to offer permanent residence to aliens," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 2, 1996. Nicholas Farrell, "Open back door into Europe: Why illegal African immigrants from Morocco are here to stay," Sunday Telegraph, January 21, 1996. "Spanish police break up illegal Chinese immigration network," Agence France Presse, October 16, 1995. "Chinese sweatshop ring busted in Spain," Deutesche Presse-Agentur, October 16, 1995.