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1.10.2008 | Von:
Tim Elrick

Conclusions from the Romanian-Spanish Migration Space

During the last ten years, Romanian citizens have become one of the strongest migrant groups in Spain, although to date there are still no opportunities for longer-term residence or employment, officially.

Rumänische Frauen stehen vor dem Migrationsbüro in Bukarest Schlange, um sich für eine Stelle in Spanien zu bewerben.Rumänische Frauen stehen vor dem Migrationsbüro in Bukarest Schlange, um sich für eine Stelle in Spanien zu bewerben. (© AP)
Time and again politicians find that the goals of their migration policies are only partially achieved or not at all. Scientists have already been observing this phenomenon for three decades and call this the "policy gap" hypothesis [1]: inadequate implementation of political measures or the difficulties of controlling migratory movements result in migration policy, which relates particularly to poorly-qualified migrant workers [2], having unintended consequences. The reasons are to be found in political, economic and, ever-increasingly, as of late, in social factors determined by migration networks.


Thus, in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), for example, the 1973 ban on recruiting so-called guest workers almost completely missed its mark. Instead of reducing the number of migrants in the FRG this political measure increased migrants' concern that opportunities for entering the country in future would be blocked to such an extent that they chose to prolong their stay. Furthermore, the humanitarian orientation of the laws in the FRG meant that migrants could also invite their family members to join them, thereby bringing still more migrants into the FRG.

The USA's attempt to put a stop to irregular immigration with the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) also fell wide of the mark. The Act made it a punishable offence to recruit workers staying in the USA without lawful work authorisation. At the same time it legalised about 2.7 million undocumented migrants by granting an amnesty to those who were able to prove that they had already been working in the USA for a specified time. Nonetheless, in order to satisfy companies, in particular those involved in agriculture that were reliant on cheap labour, a guest worker programme was set up for agricultural workers (the so-called H-2A visa). The renewed strong increase in irregular migratory movements after the introduction of the IRCA showed, however, that the sanctions levied against employers were too insignificant and possibilities for employing regular migrants too complicated to prevent employers continuing to employ irregular migrants. [3]

Meanwhile, however, the gulf between policy goals and outcomes has reached new heights, since migration networks today function better than ever, thanks to new opportunities for international tourism and easier international communication. [4] As this phenomenon mostly concerns migration in economic sectors that are reliant on poorly qualified workers, one reason for the divergence certainly lies in the still large income differentials between the world's rich and poor countries. In the above examples, it was primarily political and economic factors that unintentionally changed the outcome of migration policy. Meanwhile, it is increasingly social forces in the form of transnational and international migration networks that contribute to the non-attainment of policy goals. These networks can undermine the effectiveness of migration policy by facilitating irregular migration flows and employment, promoting chain migration, or enabling people to prolong their temporary foreign residence.

This policy brief aims to show the efficacy of these migration networks through the example of Romanian migration to Spain, and demonstrates how various features of these networks undermine the intended migration policy goals.

Romanian Immigrants in Spain, 1998-2007Romanian Immigrants in Spain, 1998-2007
During the last ten years, Romanian citizens have become one of the strongest migrant groups in Spain, although to date there are still no opportunities for longer-term residence or employment, officially. The number of Romanian migrants in Spain with residence permits [5] rose from just under 11,000 in the year 2000 to more than 83,000 in 2004. They therefore represented more than four percent of all foreigners in Spain compared with only 0.17 percent in 1992. [6] In March 2008 there were already just under 665,000 registered Romanians, corresponding to eleven percent of the foreign population. This makes them the second biggest group of foreigners after Moroccan migrants. [7] The most recent available estimates from 2006 assumed, moreover, that there were more than three times as many irregular migrants staying in Spain as there were registered migrants. [8]

Fußnoten

1.
Castles 2004a; Cornelius et al. 1994
2.
Joppke 1998
3.
cf. Martin, Miller 2000
4.
Castells 2001
5.
tarjeta o autorización de residencia
6.
Carvajal Gómez 2006
7.
MTAS 2007
8.
BBC 31.10.2006

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