Antwerp: Immigration of Moroccans from Spain

Antwerp: Immigration of Moroccans from Spain

The municipal welfare department (OCMW) in Antwerp is noticing a systematic increase in the number of requests by Spaniards of Moroccan origin, says spokesperson Eva De Wolf. The OCMW attributes this increase to the financial crisis which is causing a second immigration-wave within Europe.

These are mostly immigration who acquired Spanish citizenship in the past. Due to the financial crisis they have trouble finding work in Spain and the unemployment benefits there are low. Many decide to try their luck again and move to Belgium, whether due to advise by acquaintances and family or not. In Belgium they hope to get work more quickly or to enjoy better unemployment benefits.

According to Eva De Wolf, who does not yet have precise annual data, of the 124 Spaniards who registered in Antwerp between April 2008 and March 2009, about 66% were born in Morocco. This tends continues also by the OCMW.

OCMW chairperson Monica De Koninck (sp.a) is aware of the situation. "In Europe there's free movement of workers and goods. Those people try to pick up a work contract here. We know that some buy a contract in order to be able to establish themselves here or get a short-term contract so they could then live off unemployment."

Sometimes those are Moroccan asylum seekers who were paid in Spain to go back to their country, but in the end, end up in Belgium.

According to one insider there are 700,000 Moroccans in Spain, who get a residence permit for five years and are then legal. There are two types of Spanish Moroccans who come to Antwerp:

Group 1: "The Moroccans who say they are here illegally. They don't show their Spanish residence permit and their Moroccan passport in Belgium." They collect counterfeit information - counterfeit work and rent contracts, certificates and other papers - in order to substantiate their regularization application.

Group 2: According to one tipster, the so-called Spanish route. "These are Spaniards of Moroccan origin, therefore EU citizens. They take a job at a dubious company and leave the non-existent firm after several days or weeks. That is also all a deliberate play-act, for which a lot of many is being paid. After they're fired they get here unemployment benefits or social income.

According to the insider, Moroccans in Morocco and in Spain make fun of Belgium and say that in that 'monkey country' everything is possible and permissible.

Sources: HLN, GvA (Dutch)

See also:
* Spain: Economic woes bring increasing tensions
* Spain: Remittances down

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