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Spain, Italy Act to Curb Illegal Immigration

  • Illegal aliens have been visited by the Grinch this Christmas. Unfortunately, it's not in the United States.
By William Carmichael

As the year 2000 came to a close, two countries have discovered they're being overrun by illegal aliens.

Spain and Italy have decided to bite the politically incorrect bullet and stop the influx which is disrupting social services in both countries.

Spain will expel 20,000 illegal immigrants in a crackdown, after record numbers of North Africans arrived on the country's southern coast this year, officials said on Dec. 22.

Meanwhile, illegal immigrants in Italy who have been deported once face jail if they return under measures approved by parliament Dec. 21.

But plans to fire on vessels transporting illegal immigrants were dropped. The new law is a turn around for Italy, which has been accused of being too soft on immigration.

Back in Spain, new measures, approved by the cabinet earlier this year, are aimed at discouraging immigrants from crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. They are also intended to ease the way for up to 250,000 illegals already in Spain and lobbying to achieve legal status.

According to Spain's Interior Ministry, 137,454 applications for residency have been approved and 82,845 rejected. However, of the rejections, 61,365 cases will be revised, the spokeswoman said, leaving around 20,000 that have been denied.

While the spokeswoman did not say exactly how the immigrants would be expelled, she said that they would only be returned to countries with which Spain had an agreement in this matter.

"At the moment, we have only agreed with Morocco but we are talking to other countries in order to reach some kind of agreement," she said.

Moroccans made up 26 percent of all applications with over one-third of immigrants destined for Spain's agricultural sector, where there is a shortage of cheap labor.

In Italy, fingerprints will be taken where no other way exists of establishing a person's identity. At present, foreigners caught without passports can be held for only two weeks while efforts are made to identify them.

Illegal immigrants who have been deported before will face sentences of up to four years. The same sentence applies to those forging entry documents. People employing illegal immigrants will risk up to two years in jail and a $24,000 fine. Their homes and/or businesses may also be seized.

The law also gives the go ahead for using undercover agents to fight immigration fraud, and comes down especially hard on those employing foreign prostitutes, with a maximum 15-year jail term and a $24,000 fine for each foreigner.

Back in Spain, law and order -- with immigrants as the underlying factor -- has become the nation's main concern just prior to elections. Albanian criminals are believed to run a huge foreign prostitution racket, said to control 25,000 women, many of them under age. The bill must now go before the Senate.

Official figures showed nearly 15,000 illegal immigrants have been arrested entering Spain from North Africa this year, more than four times as many as in 1999.