However, many migrants, some even in possession of a residence permit, work informally in the underground economy, which, by definition, does not involve formal job contracts and which does allow for the creation of official job openings that could be filled using the quota system. In this respect, change will probably only come about in the foreseeable future if migration policy not only offers adequate opportunities to access the labour market (the effectiveness of opportunities to date has yet to be evaluated) but if, at the same time, there is a consistent approach to controlling the shadow economy.
One interesting aspect will be how Spain deals with foreign unemployment, which, given the current economic downswing, is visibly on the increase: in the first quarter of 2008 alone numbers went up by 18% compared with the end of 2007. Here, further economic development which, due in part to the crisis in the construction sector, is currently no longer viewed so positively as just a year ago
To further control and limit immigration, the new Minister of Labour and Immigration, Celestino Corbacho Chaves, plans to restrict family reunification by concentrating on the core family and excluding parents and parents-in-law. These restrictions are to be implemented along with an announced reform to the Aliens Act at the end of 2008. With regard to controlling illegal immigration, the Minister intends to further reinforce borders and step up the policy of repatriation. Measures taken during the last two years already appear to have had some effect, although it remains to be seen how effective they will be in the face of a possible new inrush.
Despite economic problems, it is anticipated that there will continue to be large-scale immigration to Spain for the immediate future and that these immigrants will contribute substantially to further population growth. At the same time, in the short and medium term this will also put the brakes on the severe demographic aging process to which Spain is exposed, given that it has one of Europe's lowest birth rates. In the long term, however, this will have less effect due to adjustments in reproductive behaviour.
Given this high level of immigration, the matter of integration is set to acquire great significance. For a long time, nationally-conceived migration policy has had hardly any connection with the intergration policy that has been conducted in the regions for some years. The Strategic Plan for Citizenship and Integration
Over and above the described national plan and the various plans on the level of autonomous communities, however, much will depend on what can be achieved on a local level. After all, it is there that issues such as the demand for jobs, reasonable living space and access to social services are actually dealt with, as well as the day-to-day matter of living with new neighbours.