Spain’s Popular Party stirs fear over the arrival of “millions” of migrants

New PP president Pablo Casado joins other European right-wing leaders with anti-immigration rhetoric and a promise to defend national borders

Popular Party leader Pablo Casado.
Popular Party leader Pablo Casado.Europa Press

The recently-elected leader of Spain’s Popular Party (PP), Pablo Casado, has promised to “defend the borders” against the “millions” of undocumented migrants who want to enter Spain.

A million migrants are waiting on the coast of Libya planning a new route through Spain

PP leader Pablo Casado

“It isn’t possible to give legal papers to everyone, nor is it for Spain to absorb the millions of Africans who come looking for a better future in Europe,” said Casado at a party event in Ávila on Sunday. “And because it’s not possible, we have to say so, even if it is politically incorrect.”

Casado accused Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist (PSOE) party for his stance on immigration, arguing it incites more migrants to make the dangerous journey and supports criminal organizations.

Spain recently welcomed two migrant ships that had been turned away by Italy, and it also announced new legislation to allow undocumented migrants to have full access to the public healthcare system from day one.

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau: Let’s be sincere and responsible: Europe was founded to defend life and say never again to racism and fascism. Are we or are we not democrats and Europeans? Normalizing statements from [Pablo] Casado or [Italian Interior Minister Matteo] Salvini is the first step to destroying Europe and democracy

According to Javier Ortega Smith, the head of VOX, a far-right party whose voters Casado is trying to attract, the fleeing migrants do not represent a “humanitarian crisis” but rather “an invasion orchestrated by criminal organizations and complicit foreign governments.”

“While Sánchez was in Valencia welcoming a boat, 1,500 migrants were arriving in Almería and Algeciras,” said Casado over the weekend. “A million migrants are waiting on the coast of Libya planning a new route through Spain.”

17,605 undocumented migrants have arrived in Spain by sea since the beginning of the year

“The PP is not going to allow attacks against our police officers,” Casado added, in reference to the violent border crossing of hundreds of migrants into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta last week. “We are going to support the police and Civil Guard unashamedly and undividedly.”

According to the Interior Ministry, 17,605 undocumented migrants have arrived in Spain by sea since the beginning of the year. Under the PP government of former prime minister Mariano Rajoy, 21,971 people entered Spain in 2017 in the same way. So far this year, 3,292 have entered by land through Ceuta and Melilla, compared with 3,280 in 2017.

The remarks come as the new PP leader promises to steer the conservative party further to the right. Upon his election, Casado has campaigned for more restrictive abortion legislation, a tougher stance on nationalist parties in Catalonia and Basque Country, as well as a hard line on immigration.

Morocco relaxes immigration controls

Internal reports from the European Union have warned that Morocco is easing security at the border. Experts say Moroccan border authorities are failing to stop criminal organizations from smuggling migrants to Spain. “Internal issues in Morocco, the main transit country to Spain, have caused a gap which allows more exits, particularly from the west coast of Morocco,” warns the 2018 risk analysis report.

Intelligence reports also indicate “an increase in human activity” in Mount Gurugú, where many Sub-Saharan migrants wait for their moment to enter Spain. Sources from the Spanish government say that Morocco is still waiting for around €30 million in economic support from the EU budget.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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