Spain has experienced an unprecedented migration crisis in the last day, with the entry of more than 8,000 people from Morocco who have swam across the Ceuta border. The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, confirmed this Wednesday in the control session in Congress that more than half, 4,800 of them, have already been repatriated.
Interior affirms that it has returned half of the 8,000 migrants who arrived in Ceuta and deploys another 50 civil guards
Migrants are being assisted by health workers and transferred to different centers to determine the situation of each one. Now, the competent authorities are trying to speed up return procedures in the midst of this crisis, which leaves, in a single day, a number of arrivals in Ceuta similar to that registered throughout Spain in just over five months.
A situation that the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska , has described as “extraordinary and exceptional”, ensuring that he will continue with this policy of “return through legal channels”, although without clearly detailing the protocol that is being carried out. at all times , and underlining that until now there was no minor among the 4,000 people who have already been returned to Morocco .
Children, he said Tuesday, have a “special status”, so the procedure to be followed with them will take into account the “best interests of the minor” and their status will be analyzed as soon as the situation returns to normal. Now, what, then, is the process with minors? With those of legal age? And, ultimately, what procedure must be followed to carry out these returns?
How is the return process?
In the specific case of Ceuta and Melilla , an additional provision to the one known as the ‘gag law’ was added in 2015, which reformed the Immigration Law referring to the situation in both autonomous cities.
Thus, according to the tenth additional provision of Organic Law 4/2000 of January 11 on the rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain and their social integration, “foreigners who are detected on the border line of the territorial demarcation of Ceuta or Melilla while they try to overcome the border containment elements to cross the border irregularly, they may be rejected in order to prevent their illegal entry into Spain “.
“There is an agreement with Morocco, but there is also a procedure to follow”
It is also regulated in a 1992 agreement with the Moroccan government , to which the Spanish Executive has appealed for the return of the more than 4,000 immigrants who, according to the Interior, have already been repatriated to Morocco.
“There is an agreement with Morocco, but at the same time there is a procedure to follow,” explains Marcelo Belgrano, the coordinator of the Legal Guidance Service for Foreigners of the Madrid Bar Association (ICAM), 20 minutes later .
And, according to the expert, “all the people who are returned have to be previously identified, there must be an administrative act and they have to have the right to legal assistance .” Furthermore, the additional provision itself states that “rejection” must be done in compliance with international human rights and international protection regulations.
How long can this process take?
In the event that, having previously been expelled, they return to Spain or, as in this case, intend to enter the country illegally, the law dictates that “an expulsion file will not be necessary for the return . ” For those who have been intercepted at the border, the Security Forces and Bodies in charge of the custody of the coasts and borders will be in charge of taking them, “as soon as possible” to the corresponding National Police station.
Once there, they can be detained for 72 hours during which they will be identified and, in the event that this is concluded, their return. In the agreement with Morocco, it was agreed that the border authorities of the country from which the person came must readmit him to their territory, upon request from the State that approved the return.
In which cases will a return process not be carried out?
There are several exceptions when it comes to returns. The “specific situation” of each applicant must be taken into account and the application for international protection evaluated, if the person formalizes it.
Thus, the law illustrates a series of examples that would be included in these cases , such as minors, unaccompanied minors, people with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women, single-parent families with minors, people who have suffered torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological or physical or sexual violence and victims of human trafficking.
If this request is formalized, the person may not be submitted to a return process until said request has been resolved or has been admitted according to the law regulating the right to asylum and subsidiary protection. “If a person says that they cannot return him to his country of origin, for example, due to his sexual condition, the return procedure must automatically be closed and one called international protection begins,” says Belgrano.
What happens then with minors?
Minors cannot be expelled under any circumstances. In the case of not being accompanied, they will be referred to the competent services in matters of protection of minors , informing the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
In addition, in the event that the minority of age cannot be determined due to lack of documentation, the appropriate health institutions, “as a priority and urgently,” will carry out the necessary scientific tests to conclude whether the person is a minor or of legal age.
“Immediately, measures will be taken to ensure that the representative of the minor person acts on behalf of the unaccompanied minor and assists him with regard to the examination of the application for international protection,” the law establishes.
As reported by the Ministry of Health, around 2,000 minors (both alone and accompanied) have been counted among the 8,000 people who have arrived in the last hours at the Ceuta border. Minister Grande-Marlaska has explained in this regard that, in those cases where there are doubts about the age, the pertinent tests will be carried out for confirmation. These tests, he indicated, will begin to be done “in the next few days” and when the situation experienced since Monday is “normalized”.
Where are they staying until their situation is determined?
The Delegation of the Government of Ceuta has explained that the José Bonoliel stadium has been set up “to transfer adult Moroccans who are in the street to later proceed to their return,” while minors have been installed in the ca mpamento de Piniers and in the ships of the Tarajal.