Immigration Detention Centres and Border Control in Spain: Main Concerns and Recent Developments



Time to read

4 Minutes

Post by Ana Ballesteros, PhD candidate at the University of Barcelona (Spain). Her research examines female incarceration in the Spanish Penitentiary System with specific focus on the analysis of prison policies implemented over the past decade. Her research interests include punishment and social control, gender, prisons and migration control. Ana is the Guest Tweeter for the @BorderCrim account this week (7th-11th November, 2016). You can follow her on Twitter @anaballes.

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Over the last few weeks, recent developments have activated the public debate about immigration detention centres and border control in Spain (see here, here and here). One of the main aims of my role as a Twitter Guest for Border Criminologies this week is to contribute to a better understanding of all the information disseminated in the Spanish media about these debates. As the main language of the Border Criminologies’ audience is English, this blog post offers a brief description of the main issues of current concern and a summary of recent developments in order to provide readers with a context through which to understand the Spanish case.

The 2015 report by the UN Human Rights Committee sheds light on the sociopolitical framework in which current events are taking place. The report refers to some of the main issues that I will allude to in my tweets at the Bordercrim account this week. These issues are:

  • Continued use of identity checks by the police based on racial and ethnic profiling targeting certain ethnic minorities, particularly the Roma;
  • Discrimination in access to housing, education, employment and health care suffered by immigrants, foreigners and ethnic minorities, including the Roma minority;
  • Persistent violence against women, especially the high level of violence experienced by women of immigrant origin, particularly those of Roma origin;
  • Persistent use of deprivation of liberty for irregular immigrants and complaints of ill-treatment by state officials at foreigner internment centres;
  • Summary returns, also known as “hot expulsions”, which take place at the borders of Ceuta and Melilla and ‘express deportations’, highlighting the breach of the principle of non-refoulement.
  • Restricted access to the asylum process for asylum seekers.
  • Frequent reports of allegations of ill-treatment in the context of expulsions of immigrants, including asylum seekers in Ceuta and Melilla, both by Spanish authorities and by Moroccan authorities operating on Spanish soil.
  • Evidence that Spain continues to be a destination, transit and source country for women, men and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour.

Against this background, recent developments regarding immigration detention centres, and more widely migration policy, have reignited the public debate about border control and detention of migrants. The main ones are as follows:

The above contextual information will help Twitter followers to understand the news and facts about border control in Spain (which are mainly in Spanish) that I will be sharing during this week. When available, I will also provide links to the limited amount of academic contributions (in English and Spanish), analyzing different aspects of migration and refugee policies in Spain. Finally, I will tweet references to some more invisible subjects, such as women migrant and refugees, and their different pathways and experiences, giving examples of the gendered nature of migration and refuge processes.

Social media, like Twitter, present us with powerful tools to disseminate information, not only inside state borders, but also globally, helping the creation of strategic and fruitful alliances between practitioners, scholars, civil society members and human rights activists. Social media can (and should) contribute to reinforce online activism and feed the debate about migrant policies and border control within a human rights approach.

Note: For a background on the current situation in Spain regarding detention and the criminalization of migration, please see other Border Criminologies’ blog contributions:

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Found within

Detention centres; immigration detention; Spain; border control


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