Undocumented immigrants from Africa go through considerable hardships to get to Europe and are often caught because their skin marks them as foreign. But a new kind of clandestine migration relies on invisibility.
In one bloody night in October 2005, an estimated 400 immigrants rushed the razor-wire topped fence that separates
Amnesty International reports that
But the fence doesn’t worry Rashid M. He’s part of a new generation of immigrants who don’t need to climb a fence or paddle a boat to
Rashid isn’t the typical picture of an undocumented African immigrant in
While black Africans have moved on to the Canaries as their preferred point of entry, Indians and Bangladeshis have begun flowing into the CETI. They now outnumber sub-Saharan Africans by more than 2 to 1.
Rashid and his compatriots didn’t climb the fence; instead they simply slipped across the border dressed as Arabs, an option not open to sub-Saharan Africans for obvious reasons.
Spanish enclaves provide easy access to Europe
But Rashid doesn’t think these new defenses are the reason the border rushes stopped. “The height [of the fence] is nothing. It's the Moroccan army camped out along it that poses the problem – they shoot,” he said.
Yet while the high-profile mass fence climbs have ceased, the number of arrivals in the CETI has remained stable, said Maria Dolores, the Spanish government-appointed legal advisor there.
"There are a few more people in the camp now compared to two years ago. For the last little while the Sub-Saharan Afican arrivals have dropped off because the border is more solid," Dolores said.
Rashid said he obtained an Algerian identity card and memorized the information. Then it was as simple as wrapping a keffiyeh around his head and walking into
“They didn’t ask me any questions, but just sent me on through because they thought I was shopping,” he said.
He then made his way to the Police station where he registered as a refugee claimant with his real name and nationality.
“When you arrive, they sit you down and interview you for hours, asking you all sorts of questions to find out if you're lying about where you're from and how you got there.”
Rashid explains that he left home because
From there he hitchhiked, took buses and walked through
Rashid has now been living in the CETI for almost a year. “Before, if you were here for six or seven months, they'd send you to
Rashid reports that approximately 80 Indians were sent home by plane six months ago from the detention centre after seeing their applications turned down. “Those of us who are still waiting are almost out of hope. We know we're next. It's only a dream to get into
Rashid expects a final decision on his refugee status in the coming months.
Date created : 2008-02-29