Theoretically, when accessing basic rights such as work or health care in Spain, a foreigner has the same legal rights as any Spanish citizen. However, the Spanish framework on integration policies lacks provisions that specifically address the migrant population. Why is this important?
When there is no concrete legislation and the rule of law, interpretation is left to the discretion of local and regional authorities and to the will of the people, as well as to the ever-changing political direction and priorities.
I do not want to mention linguistic and cultural barriers, real barriers that get in our faces as migrants every day for many years of our migratory journey.
For example, lack of access to the labor market is due to barriers such as lengthy bureaucratic processes, inaccessibility to information, and the unwillingness of employers to hire immigrants, along with incidents of discrimination and racism, among other problems. This has an adverse impact on accessibility to decent housing as well, as we all know and suffer from. Other services such as health, including mental health, many migrants avoid going to primary care and wait until they need emergency services. For many reasons, one of which is language, culture, and fear of discrimination, denunciation, or deportation.
Thus, when we say that the theoretical framework does not match reality, it reinforces the need to include migrants in all policy cycles. Their stories and experiences must drive policy and be included in policy design and implementation.
Specific policies for migrants and other marginalized groups are needed to protect the rights of these groups, whether they are youth, women, migrants, refugees, or others.
Our work with the Municipality of Ripollet within the MIILE Project context is to create a migrant consultative body - table of participation - that brings their point of view to integration policies in the city. This work begins with building trust between migrants and the municipality and fostering an inclusive, proactive, and representative participation of the migrant collective in the city.
So, we don't just leave the door open. We keep it open, we give directions, and we invite people to come in. That is how we ensure equal access for all.
Published by Lallan, Ripollet Municipal Magazine Lallana 31, p.17