Tough laws won’t stop illegal immigration: Spanish PM

June 6th, 2008 - 5:16 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 6 (IANS) Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said draconian laws would not be able to solve the problem of illegal immigration to Europe. “Tough laws will not deter illegal migrants. But economic development in their countries will,” Zapatero told London’s Financial Times in an interview published Thursday.

“We have to combat illegal migration more effectively, and the best and most efficient way to do this is through cooperation with the countries of origin,” he said.

The newspaper noted that while Zapatero was not a “hawk” on the migration issue, Spanish public opinion had been turning against immigrants as the economy slowed and unemployment rose.

The Financial Times noted that the socialist premier legalised 700,000 undocumented immigrants after taking office in 2004.

Zapatero, who met Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi in Rome Monday, said he received assurances that Italian authorities did not have any plan to jail illegal immigrants, despite a move to make travel without valid papers a criminal offence.

Zapatero said he considered the adoption by the 27-member European Union of a common immigration policy viable within “four to six years,” the Financial Times reported.

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