Friday, April 3, 2009

CITIZENS OF EUROPE OR XENOPHOBES?

The reason most immigrants come to Spain or any other European country is to find work. During the times of economic crisis that currently exist there is less reason for them to stay, so they move on.

I read that over a million immigrants in Spain have returned to their home country or other locations offering better work prospects. Certainly in the village where I live, which has had a high Romanian population, the numbers of immigrants has greatly decreased since the jobs in construction and on the land dried up.

According to a recent poll carried out by Harris Interactive and published in the ‘Financial Times’ in Britain and Italy 80 per cent of nationals believe that immigrants should leave if they cannot find work. In Spain the figure is 70 per cent whilst the French are divided 50 – 50.

I am British but my home is in Spain and has been for nearly 20 years. My son was born in Dublin but has lived in Spain longer than anywhere else. As an EU citizen Spain is as much my nation as any other country in the union. If I suddenly became unemployed I would battle on here because this is where I live.

However I recognise, largely because I am British and because of my country’s attitude to immigration, that seeking work in hard times in a nation that is not your own is fraught with dangers. You could be accused of holding a job that could go to a Spaniard or be chasing a job that “by right” should be held down by a Spaniard.

It is at times like these that we see just how far the concept of becoming a citizen of Europe has progressed. I have as much right to a job in Spain as a Spanish person does to a job in Britain. Whilst we are all happy to embrace that mantra in the good times when the going gets tough then xenophobia rules – and it rules nowhere stronger than the British Isles.

3 comments:

Daphne said...

All industrialised European countries need legal immigrants for their labour markets. They are welcomed with open arms till the times get tough ... but legal immigrants can't just be for the good times!

Lenox said...

No - you have just as much right to a job in Spain as a Spaniard does.

GibTalk said...

And, by extension, xenophobia rules strongly in at least one UK territory, Gib, where the arguments that there may not be sufficient jobs to go around for the indigenous population, and that public services are too overstretched to allow full rights to long-term migrant workers, are used more by government than by the people. Tough times are tougher in Gib if you are not a local, and especially, if you are a Moroccan.