Sunday, February 3, 2019

"Illegal workers in Andalusia: unwanted yet indispensable"

An undocumented migrant poses in ‘Almericien’ shantytown in El Ejido, Almeria province, on 14 January 2019. (Jorge Guerrero / AFP)

"In southern Spain, the far-right party Vox has drawn farmers’ votes with a pledge to deport illegal workers.

‘But I don’t know what they would do without us,’ an African man remarked as he left a greenhouse in El Ejido.
In this part of the sprawling region of Andalusia dubbed the ‘sea of plastic’, shimmering greenhouses lie side by side for miles on end.
This is where Vox got its best results in recent local elections that have led to it sitting in a regional parliament for the first time in modern Spanish history.
One of the mainstays of the far-right party’s programme is a call for illegal immigrants to be denounced and deported.

Riding his bicycle along roads lined with greenhouses, Issa Guebre, 24, says he is paid 36 euros per day to grow melons.But in this area of southeastern Spain, dubbed ‘Europe’s vegetable garden’, foreign workers are an integral part of the ultra-intensive farming that the regional economy depends on.
He arrived last year from Burkina Faso after climbing the tall fence that separates the Spanish overseas territory of Melilla from Morocco.
Guebre says his boss ‘has never asked’ him for any identity documents and that he has never seen a work inspector.
50 degrees
Asked about Vox’s call to deport all illegal workers, he says: ‘I don’t know how they would cope here without us Africans.’
‘In the summer it’s so hot in the greenhouses at 50 degrees (120 degrees F) that even the owner doesn’t come in.’
A Senegalese man who lives in Andalusia, Serigne Mamadou Keinde Diassaka, recently drew attention when he published on Facebook a video seen more than 600,000 times.
Responding to Vox at six in the morning in a vineyard in Albacete, he said: ‘Here’s what we immigrants do: work.’
In El Ejido, population 89,000, Vox got 29.51% of the votes, ahead of the conservative People’s Party (PP) that has governed the town for 28 years.
Vox could even win municipal elections in May, polls show."

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