Migrants in Spain in the time of COVID-19: challenges and opportunities

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the migration landscape in Spain. Migrants and their families are encountering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on migration/travel restrictions and border controls. From a human rights perspective, this blog examines the conditions for irregular migrants in Spain in the context of COVID-19 to identify current challenges and opportunities while looking beyond the current crisis to think about the future of migration and migrants’ rights in Spain.

Spain is an interesting example of migration and border management practices during and post-COVID-19 for several reasons: it is a place of destination and transit for irregularised migration to Europe; it plays a strategic role and geographic location at the South-Western end of the European border, and its migration and border control policies have been supported by the European Union (and been given as an example for other member states to follow).

First, irregular migratory flows at Spain’s Southern Border have been decreasing significantly since their peak in 2018. According to data compiled by APDHA (Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía), the number of arrivals decreased by 48 percent in 2019 in comparison with the previous year (from 64,120 recorded arrivals to 33,261). This downward trend has continued during the first half of 2020. According to data from Spain’s Ministry of Interior, 7,402 people arrived irregularly in Spain between 1 January and 31 May 2020, a decrease of almost 29% compared with the same period in 2019.

This is a part of a blog post published by Carlos Arce Jiménez.