Posted on September 24, 2004

Spain Has 800,000 Illegal Immigrants, Sept. 23

MADRID — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero disclosed Thursday that there are at least 800,000 illegal immigrants living in the country.

Zapatero revealed the scale of Spain’s illegal immigration population as he announced the draft bill for the new Foreigners Law will be introduced in a month.

Speaking in parliament, Zapatero said the new proposals will include closer cooperation with the Moroccan authorities to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants from Africa to Spain, many of whom arrive on a daily basis in tiny , fragile boats.

Most of these arrivals are organised by gangs of human traffickers and many have died in the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean or the Atlantic to the Canary Islands.

Responding to a question from opposition leader Mariano Rajoy, of the conservative Popular Party, Zapatero said: “We want the legislation to be the fruit of a political and social accord. We will consult with others on this

“This will be to control put in order the immigration to this country, in connection with the residence and work permits and to make the immigration service efficient and well ordered.”

The Socialists have announced a plan to offer work permits to immigrants with contracts in an effort to control those who at present work in the ´black economy´. They claim it will bring more cash to the social security system.

Opponents have claimed this will mean Spain loses real control over the flow of immigrants to Spain.

Rajoy attacked the “contraditions and rectifications” which he claimed the government had made to its policy on immigration.

Earlier, Zapatero said the Spanish and Moroccan governments had decided to increase sea, air and land patrols in an effort to stop the flow of illegal immigrants.