Entities and groups demand the unblocking of the reform to facilitate the inclusion and reception of foreign minors and ex-wards of the state of legal age.
"Documents for children", "no person is illegal" or "Fair, humane and dignified immigration regulation" are some of the slogans that have resonated strongly throughout the state in the mobilisations called to demand the reform of immigration regulations, the regularisation of ex-wards of the state and the suspension of the expulsion of minors. In Barcelona, about 300 people responded to the call of the Coordinadora Obrim Fronteres (Let’s open the borders) and demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the European Union and the delegation of the Spanish Government.
"We value very positively the mobilisations of these days, especially because attendance among the young was very high, and what we were looking for was precisely that, for them to find a space to express themselves and make their own a claim that directly affects them,” explains Maria Creixell, from Coordinadora Obrim Fronteres. She hopes this platform will serve to raise awareness among the population about what the paralysis of the reform means for these young people.
Thousands of young people hoped that this summer the government would finally fulfil its commitment to approve the decree to reform the regulation of foreigners, promoted by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, which aimed to facilitate the inclusion of foreign minors and ex-wards of the state of legal age, reducing procedures and waiting times, granting automatic work permits and simplifying the requirements for renewing them.
Finally, the Ministry of the Interior decided to paralyse the reform and stick it in a drawer, appealing to an alleged ‘call effect’ that a change in the rules would provoke. "It makes no sense, these young people won't stop coming because there is a certain legislation or another, it’s not an element of consideration at the time of leaving, the real elements are much more structural factors such as the conditions they live in in their home countries”, points out Creixell.
The decision of the Ministry of the Interior has been received like a bucket of cold water among the youth and the organisations that accompany them and work for their emancipation. "Without this reform, when these young people turn 18, they are left with a residence permit that doesn’t authorise them to work and, therefore, it’s very difficult for them to renew their documents when they are being asked for requirements that are hard to meet, and even more so in the current economic context”, says Sara Agulló, an attorney from the Federation of Entities with Assisted Projects and Flats (FEPA).
According to Agulló, when these young people reach the age of majority, they can only work if they get a one-year job offer with at least minimum wage, that is, about 950 € per month. "These are requirements that in no way fit the current reality", points out Creixell.
In addition, following some rulings of the Supreme Court, to renew their non-profit residence permit they are asked to prove their own livelihood - an income that cannot come from the administration or social assistance - of about 600 euros for the first renovation and more than 2,000 euros for the second one. "It's completely incongruous because they are young people who have no income precisely because they can't work", says Agulló.
A deadlock that causes frustration among both young people and organisations
The situation, as they admit from the organisations that accompany these young people on a daily basis, generates great frustration and misunderstanding among both boys and girls. "This delay in the reform is affecting them a lot, not only in terms of documents and the situation of exclusion it causes, but also psychologically: they get angry and they don’t understand it", says Agulló.
These feelings not only affect young people, but also the organisations, associations and professionals who work for their autonomy and development. "It also causes us despair and worry, because you run into a wall, but at the same time you’re eager to continue supporting these boys and girls as far as possible and to help them find a job, which right now is the only way forward they have”, remarks the attorney from the federation, which brings together 68 entities dedicated to promoting autonomy and equal opportunity among young people without family support in the process of emancipation.
On the other hand, the entities agree that it makes little sense for the administration and entities to pour effort and resources to support these young people when they are minors if they will then get caught up in this bureaucratic impasse when they reach the age of majority, without even offering them the possibility of earning a living by themselves. "It's absurd, all this effort is in vain", says Agulló.
Maria Creixell, from Obrim Fronteres, agrees: “the reform is necessary, we can’t allow these young people, who spend time sustained by the administration and entities, to be kicked out on the street from one day to the next when they reach the age of majority. It’s necessary to carry out the reform so as not to prolong this paralysis, which puts these boys and girls on the street and all it achieves is to create another social problem”, she notes.
Likewise, this scenario, which places young people in a situation of irregularity and helplessness, according to several organisations, is fuel for hate speech and encourages xenophobic and racist social rejection.
"And it's not just that, the migration policy of this government leads us to the darkest times. We can talk about the deportations and hot expulsions of minors in Ceuta, the systematic rejection of any of the regularisation proposals… A lot of red lines are being crossed, and we need to mobilise ourselves to make it clear that we will not back down when it comes to respect for human rights”, said Creixell.
With the reform in a drawer and no clear prospects for it coming back, thousands of young people are exposed to situations of great vulnerability and cannot continue on their path to autonomy. Entities and groups will continue to fight and mobilise because every day that goes by, they warn, is another day of suffering and obstacles to their emancipation. "We can’t allow the rights of these young people to continue to be violated. It’s a cruel joke, especially for them, but also for the organisations that have participated in this whole process", concludes Creixell.