Exploring contemporary Spanish and Moroccan attitudes and policies on immigration in a multi-cultural, historical context


The last stop on my Magellan Project was to Barcelona. Following in the steps of Azel from “Leaving Tangier,” I visited both cities mentioned in the novel; Barcelona and Tangier. Though Barcelona is geographically further from Morocco than the other cities I visited in the South of Spain, refugees and migrants remained just as prevalent an issue.

Conveniently while I was in Barcelona, World Refugee Day occurred on June 20th. I ventured to the Besos river where they were holding a celebration of sorts with recreational and awareness activities. It was the equivalent of a large American barbeque, but sponsored by the government and several NGO’s.

I found this experience particularly interesting because it allowed me time to not only meet some refugees, but also with people who work directly with the Spanish government trying to help migrants/refugees find their place in Spain. I was shocked to learn about the difficulties many people face even when they are going through the legal process properly.

For example, a common sight in Barcelona is to see many immigrants selling various items on the streets-ranging from fake Gucci belts to knockoff Nike’s. When I visited Barcelona as a child, I never thought anything of the men carrying large white sheets full of goods, and wondered why they didn’t try to get a job in a store or restaurant

However, an organization at the festival, Bayt al-Thaqafa, informed me that these people often have no choice. The path to citizenship in Spain is difficult. These people are permitted to reside in Spain, but they are not allowed to work for two years. Hence, in order to make a living, they resort to other sources of income. More information can be found here: https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-02-03/battle-barcelona-s-sidewalks-immigrant-vendors-want-way-out
Though these immigrants are not from Morocco, it was still interesting to learn more about Spain’s policies on immigration in general (perhaps another topic to study in the future…)

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