Spain to experience higher migration flows as neighbouring countries toughen immigration policies

Spain to experience higher migration flows as neighbouring countries toughen immigration policies

An NGO-operated rescue ship carrying a migrant and the corpses of two others is expected to dock in Mallorca today.

Migrants stand after arriving on a rescue boat at a port in Malaga

Photo: Reuters/Jon Nazca

An NGO-operated rescue ship carrying a migrant and the corpses of two others is expected to dock in Mallorca today.

The boat is operated by Proactiva Open Arms, a charity that rescues migrants lost at sea. The ship first sought to dock in Italy but wound up in a dispute with the government—Proactiva claims the Italians would not allow the dead bodies to disembark, which Rome denies. Instead, the NGO opted for the longer voyage to Spain.

This episode follows Spain’s welcoming of 600 migrants aboard the Aquarius, a ship rejected by the Italians, last month. Indeed, Spain’s migrant intake of 18,016 so far this year surpasses Italy’s 17,827—an increase from 11,000 at a similar point in 2017 for the former but an 80% fall from last year’s figures for the latter.

Unless Spain’s migrant figures dramatically increase, the issue may not stoke the same xenophobic political sentiments it has in Italy—where over 180,000 people arrived in 2016, presaging right-wing populists entering government this year. In the near future, expect Madrid to continue making up for Rome’s hostility to migrants, while the long-term may depend on public reaction and the raw numbers.

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