Spain deporting an average of 30 migrants a day since 2013

Figures show that Moroccans and Algerians topped the list of deportations due to bilateral agreements

A migrant from Ghana near the Aluche holding center in Madrid.
A migrant from Ghana near the Aluche holding center in Madrid.Claudio Alvarez

Spain deported 54,963 immigrants between 2013 and 2017, representing an average of 30 people a day, according to an Interior Ministry reply to a query by Senator Maribel Mora, of the leftist Unidos Podemos group.

The figures show a sustained decrease in deportations over the period, with a slight rebound in 2017. A total of 13,985 people were sent back in 2013, another 11,817 in 2014, 10,594 in 2015, 9,241 in 2016 and 9,326 in 2017.

What this evidences is a disproportionate application of internment measures against citizens of certain countries

Moroccans and Algerians are, in that order, the nationals who were most often targeted for deportation, representing 30,832 and 4,479 of the total for the period. This reflects the bilateral agreements that both countries have signed with Spain to facilitate the return of undocumented migrants.

Citizens of Morocco accounted for 19% of the 28,572 undocumented migrant arrivals in 2017, while Algerians represented 17%, according to Interior Ministry figures obtained by filing an information request backed by Spain’s Transparency Law.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Deportations of people from sub-Saharan Africa, who make up the bulk of irregular immigration to Spain, are significantly lower due to identification difficulties and to the lack of bilateral agreements with many of their home countries.

The exceptions are Senegal, which took back 757 people on the basis of a 2006 deal with Spain, followed by Nigeria, which accepted 608 people back, and Mali (231). Both these countries signed an immigration agreement with Spain in 2007.

The CIE migrant holding center in Aluche, Madrid.
The CIE migrant holding center in Aluche, Madrid.EFE

Senator Maribel Mora has noted that every year, the same scenario unfolds: hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants are taken to CIE holding centers, then allowed to go free once the 60-day detention deadline expires because authorities were unable to return them to their home countries.

In 2017, for instance, citizens of Gambia and Côte d’Ivoire represented 24% of the 8,237 people held at CIE centers. Only six of them were deported.

“What this evidences is a disproportionate application of internment measures against citizens of certain countries,” said Senator Mora, whose group has criticized the conditions at these centers.

The figures obtained through the senator’s query include deportations from CIE centers and those performed directly from police precincts without going through the usual judicial procedures. They include both “expulsiones” and “devoluciones,” two different administrative procedures.

Other nationalities represented in the deportation figures for 2013-2017 include Colombia (2,576), Bolivia (1,412), Ecuador (1,369), Brazil (1,067) and the United States (128).

Some EU citizens were also sent back, generally for having committed crimes against state security such as drug or arms trafficking. This list includes Romanians (1.530), Portuguese (277), French (128) and Italians (101).

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