Today Pablo Iglesias welcomed the decision to give James Rhodes, a British Pianist and activist, Spanish nationality.
With Rhodes only having been in the country for four years, he would be six short of getting the passport if it had not been gifted to him. Whilst respecting his activist work (which I do), some feel that this special treatment is unfair when compared to other migrants. However, opening up the conversation around immigration is welcome.
The method however is questionable. Giving a reward for being a good immigrant leads to a discussion about what is a good or bad immigrant. Is there a difference between the guiri who doesn’t register with the town hall for 10 years, and the migrant arriving ‘illegally’? I would say no, and Brexit will continue to raise these issues in years to come.
But what if we had another Zapatero moment with 700,000 migrants being given rights? This is what Podemos have been pushing for. Yet, they will come up against several barriers, including the EU, Vox, and the fact that during Zapatero’s time Spain was still going through the property boom, and Europe had not experienced a refugee crisis like the one we have now.
On the other side we have an aging population, a lowering birth rate, a contracting economy, and a care system that needs to be rebuilt from the foundations. Migrants will be fundamental to answering all of these issues. Spain cannot do it alone.
If there is one group of migrants that deserve any form of amnesty, it is the fruit pickers in Spain who have kept working through the pandemic in all conditions. Europe’s greenhouses would not function without them.