Spain was one of the first countries in Europe to release immigration detainees amidst the Covid-19 crisis, to date. However the GDP has found little information detailing the situation that released detainees now face, or the level of support that they are receiving.
As flights were grounded and movement halted, it was quickly apparent that expulsion would no longer be possible, prompting Francisco Fernández Marugán, the Spanish Ombudsman, to comment on 19 March that in these circumstances, “[immigration detainees] must be released.” The “Campana Estatal por el Cierre de los CIEs,” similarly urged the Spanish government to close immigration detention centres given that returns could not longer be undertaken; and the Interior Ministry advised that detainees who cannot be deported or who have been detained for longer than the maximum period (60 days) should be released.
Eight detainees were released from Valencia CIE on 16 March, while the Barcelona CIE was temporarily shut and all detainees released. Detainees were also released from Aluche, Tarife, and Madrid CIEs – but reports indicate that many detainees remain in the Madrid facility.
On 20 March 2020, the Spanish government adopted measures that guarantee that migrants and refugees in the country may benefit from the country’s protection system. The Secretary of State for Migration has temporarily suspended the requirement to have a valid residence permit in order to receive aid from the state, where renewing the permit is impossible.
On 30 March, riots broke out in several prisons in Valencia, including Villena, Fontcalent and Picassent prisons. Prisoners were protesting against the suspension of visits. The Picassent prison houses 2,000 prisoners, many of whom reportedly suffer from chronic health conditions or are immunodeficient.
On 1 April 2020, a Judge ordered the release of all detainees in the Las Palmas CIE after several detainees contracting Covid-19. This measure was adopted due to the conditions of overcrowding and the impossibility of maintaining distance between detainees in the centre. Reports indicate that there remain approximately 100 persons in CIE’s throughout Spain for a total of 866 spaces, with most detainees being held in the Canary Islands.
On 6 April 2020, two immigration centres in the Canary Islands were closed and no detainees remain. There are still 22 persons in the Murcia CIE; 10 in Valencia CIE and 2 in Algeciras. By 5 April 2020, there were only 34 persons detained throughout Spain’s CIE’s. Currently, the Barcelona; Tenerife; Hoya Fria, Aluche and Barranco Seco CIE’s are temporarily closed.
Pueblos Unidos has created an online resource with information and publications concerning access to services during the state of emergency. The page also provides links to documents published by other organisations.
- Europa Press, “El Gobierno Garantiza las Ayudas para Migrantes y Refugiados del Sistema de Acogida Ante la Crisis del Covid-19,” 20 March 2020, https://www.europapress.es/epsocial/migracion/noticia-gobierno-garantiza-ayudas-migrantes-refugiados-sistema-acogida-crisis-covid-19-20200320162745.html
- El Diario, “Los Dos Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros de Canarias ya Están vacíos,” 6 April 2020, https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/365diasmigraciones/Centros-Internamiento-Extranjeros-Canarias-vacios_6_1013908620.html
- Pueblos Unidos, “Recursos Durante el Estado de Alarma,” accessed on 8 April 2020, http://pueblosunidos.org/recursos-durante-el-estado-de-alarma/
- P. Sainz, “El Defensor del Pueblo confirma la liberación de internas de los CIE,” El Salto, 19 March 2020, https://www.elsaltodiario.com/coronavirus/defensoria-del-pueblo-confirma-la-liberacion-de-internas-del-cie
- Campana por el cierre de los centros de internamiento para extranjeros, “Por el cierre de los centros de internamiento de extranjeros y el fin de la deportaciones,” accessed on 2 April 2020, ciesno.wordpress.com/
- Europa Press, “Interior abre la Puerta liberar a internos en CIE tras analizar ‘caso por caso’ posibilidades de retorno,” 19 March 2020, www.europapress.es/epsocial/migracion/noticia-interior-abre-puerta-liberar-internos-cie-analizar-caso-caso-posibilidades-retorno-20200319192419.html
- B. Barakat, “مهاجرون تونسيون يستغيثون: فيروس كورونا يهددنا في مخيم مليلة” Al Araby Al Jadeed, 1 April 2020, https://bit.ly/3dXAruL
- P. Sainz, “Interior mantiene en los CIE a casi 300 personas inexpulsables,” El Salto, 23 March 2020, https://www.elsaltodiario.com/coronavirus/interior-mantiene-en-los-cie-a-casi-300-personas-inexpulsables