Bishops seek changes to Spain’s immigration policies

A six-metre-high fence separates Spain's North African enclave of Melilla from Morocco. Photo: Wikipedia

► Church criticizes CIE detention centre conditions, summary deportations ►

A spokesman for Spain’s Catholic Bishops Conference has called on the government to find better alternatives to the detention and processing of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers through controversial Centros de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes (CETIs, “Temporary Immigrant Stay Centres”) and Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros (CIE, “Centres for Internment of Foreigners”), which have come under fire in recent months for overcrowded conditions, lack of sanitation and internment of unaccompanied minors with adults suspected of criminal activity.

Bishop of Astorga Juan Antonio Menéndez, who is president of the bishops’ Commission on Migration, also called on the government to do more to respect the basic rights of migrants and refugee applicants processed through CIEs in Spain’s North African enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta, specifically condemning the summary return to Morocco of migrants and asylum seekers en masse without prior examination and processing of individual cases as required by EU accords on the treatment of migrants.

Menéndez made the statements on Monday during the presentation of the bishops conference’s program to raise awareness in Spain over the plight of immigrants and refugees under the slogan “Welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees”, in preparation for the international celebration on 14th January of the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2018.

In presenting the bishops’ concerns, Menéndez noted that the Spanish government has failed to meet its quota for resettlement of some 15,000 refugees from war-torn countries of the Middle East and North Africa that Spain had agreed under the terms of a 2015 EU-wide accord on refugee relocation.

The bishop said that the current mixing of unaccompanied and vulnerable minors, families and the elderly with individuals suspected of past criminal activity in the CIE centres was unacceptable and that Spain needed to find alternatives to the current CIE and CETI arrangements. At the same time, he called for an immediate end to the immediate deportation en masse to Morocco of migrants and asylum seekers, noting that not only had the practice violated international accords but has also been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.

► Read More in Spanish at Europa Press and Ceuta Digital …

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