Spain approves plan to persuade migrants to go home

October 2nd, 2008 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Oct 2 (DPA) The Spanish parliament Thursday approved a controversial plan to encourage immigrants to return home amid rising unemployment.The offer provides for jobless immigrants to be paid their unemployment benefit in advance, if they go back to their countries and agree not to return to Spain for three years.

More than 100,000 immigrants could take up the offer, but no more than 10,000 were expected to do so.

The plan was approved while unemployment continued rising for the sixth consecutive month, surpassing 2.6 million, according to new figures released by the government.

Labour and Immigration Minister Celestino Corbacho estimated unemployment among immigrants at 16 percent, compared to 11 percent for the general population.

Immigrants have been hit hard by the crisis of the key construction sector, which employed many migrant workers.

Corbacho meanwhile elicited criticism by proposing that immigrants would not be allowed to bring their parents to Spain before having lived there for five years, up from the current one-year limit.

Such plans were another attempt to curtail the rights of immigrants in Spain and the European Union (EU), said Virginia Alvarez of the human rights group Amnesty International.

Corbacho earlier sparked a political row by linking immigration to unemployment and by declaring that hardly any visas would be granted to migrant workers. He then retracted his statements.

Spain has nearly five million legal immigrants, as well as hundreds of thousands of illegals, in a population of around 45 million. Most of the migrants come from Latin America, Morocco and eastern Europe.

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