How is Spain’s asylum system coping with a record increase in applications?

Author: Miguel Hernández Mercado

This article is part of Changing the Narrative. Articles in this series are written by student or early career journalists who took part in The Local’s training course on solutions-focused migration reporting. Find out more about the project here.

As Spain deals with its highest ever number of asylum applications, how can the government try to ensure the process is both efficient and fair?

When a migrant first presents a claim for asylum in Spain – or anywhere in Europe – they enter into a temporary and uncertain status. The Spanish government allows for up to six months before deciding on their claim. During this time, three different government agencies study the case and the asylum seeker may wait under the care of a government reception centre or NGO – unable to take some key steps towards integrating into Spain, such as finding a job, and uncertain of whether they’ll even be allowed to.

An efficient administrative system for handling the cases is a necessity. The EU has proposed reforms towards this end that would coordinate the procedures across Europe. Last year the Spanish government drafted a law proposal with measures that adapt to the EU’s requests for asylum procedures. The measures included setting a deadline of 30 days after arrival for asylum seekers to submit their claim and allowing coming from a so-called “safe country” as a reason to deny a request. By and large, the measures make it quicker to reject certain claims.

Spain’s ability to handle asylum cases has been put to the test in recent years more than ever before. According to Eurostat, Spain received a record high number of asylum claims with 117,800—up from 54,050 the year before, which had been enough to draw concern from experts and local authorities. The 118 percent increase from 2018 to 2019 was the highest of any member state of the European Union. Citizens of Venezuela (40,906) and Colombia (29,363) accounted for 59 percent of the asylum claims in Spain for 2019.


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