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Immigration Issues In Spain

Updated on September 22, 2014

A new study on Immigration and the Welfare State in Spain challenges public perception about immigrants. Apparently, immigrants put in much more to the welfare state than they get out out of it. By and large, they work hard and contribute towards the funding of state projects. This includes fields of education, and health and pensions. Immigrants are currently estimated to make up 12 percent of the population of Spain.

The article appeared May 4, 2011, in the journal pain, ThinkSpain and it's important to the culture at large. Since immigrants started moving rapidly into the country in the last years of the Franco regime in the early 1970s, they have very often not been well-received. They have in fact faced extreme discrimination and Spaniards have kept them out of public places out of spite, virtually segregating racially between Spaniards and non-Spaniards, like blacks and whites in the American South in the 1950s. However, apparently, a lot of the usual claims made against them do not add up empirically. Immigrants in Spain, like most immigrants in the U.S.A., are hard workers and often contribute greatly to their new chosen countries.

I believe studies like this are important. I think it is always important to do empirical studies to see if common public perceptions hold up against the factual evidence. In regards to immigration, though, the theme is complicated. While to an American liberal, the discrimination against immigrants might seem a little too harsh and even severely racist, it is too understandable that Spaniards, during bad economic times, might be slow to welcome in people who are competitive in the job market. Human beings often look out for their own interests, and Spaniards seem to be no difference. Prices have risen drastically since the Europe-wide endorsement of the Euro, and all of Western society has been hurting economically for quite some time.

Spain, more importantly, simply endured some horrible socio-political realities in the 20th century under Franco, and I could understand why Spaniards want peace and simplicity. More importantly, though, I think this article is important because it is ultimately necessary for developed countries to learn how to embrace and live better with their immigrant populations. As the world gets smaller, and the boundaries of countries are more permeable, people of different racial and economic backgrounds are going to have to learn how to live with each other in relative peace. Thus, this article takes a huge step towards winning more compassion from Spaniards who carry negative assumptions about immigrants.

In conclusion, the researcher states, "This reality is a direct contrast to the general perception society has and which needs to be reversed through information and education."

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