Spain’s PSOE-Podemos government plans to deport nearly 800 migrant children

Nearly 800 migrant children are expelled from Spain by the coalition government of the Socialist Social Democratic Party (PSOE) and the “left populist” Podemos party. These massive deportations are the latest atrocity in the government’s so-called “progressive” crusade against migrants and refugees.

The children were among the thousands of migrants who arrived in May in the North African enclave of Ceuta, on the border with Morocco. Most swam around the six-meter fence that juts out into the sea, crossed at low tide, or used rubber dinghies to enter Spain. It is estimated that around 10,000 migrants crossed the border with Morocco in just over a day, including around 2,000 minors.

In response, the PSOE-Podemos government sent hundreds of soldiers in armored vehicles and mobilized more than 200 riot police to reinforce the 1,000 police stationed in Ceuta. Soldiers and police used batons to chase migrants off the beach and threw smoke bombs to prevent others from crossing. At least one migrant drowned at sea.

The expulsion of hundreds of children is a continuation of the violent aggression against these migrants that began in May. Those who managed to enter the Spanish enclave, despite attacks by militarized soldiers and police, are now summarily expelled without the opportunity to make their case heard, in flagrant violation of international law.

Podemos spoke up in opposition to the deportation order. The party’s Minister of Social Rights and Agenda 2030, Ione Belarra, said pathetically, “any family reunification process must use a protocol that includes individualized interviews with the children as well as detailed knowledge on the part of the prosecution. “.

In reality, Podemos is complicit in the xenophobic and anti-migrant policies of the government of which he is a part. In power, he implemented policies indistinguishable from those of the far right, separating migrant children from their parents, building concentration camps in the Canary Islands and facilitating fascist attacks on migrants stranded there. These policies have resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 migrants who attempted to reach Spain in the first half of 2021, according to the Caminando Fronteras charity.

The deportations of minors began on August 13, with 15 children brought back to Morocco each day in buses. According to the Spanish Interior Ministry, the deportations were carried out in accordance with an agreement signed in 2007 with Morocco to facilitate the rapid repatriation of unaccompanied minors. Three days later, however, when 45 migrants had already been deported, the government in Ceuta was forced to suspend repatriations for 72 hours.

This was in response to numerous legal challenges, notably by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Spanish Network for Immigration and Refugee Assistance, the Coordinadora de Barrios and the Fundación Raíces. Children were being deported without having had access to a lawyer or the opportunity to be heard individually, said Patricia Fernandez Vicens, lawyer for the Coordinadora de Barrios.

Mass deportations violate national and international laws: children have the right to be heard during all legal and administrative proceedings that affect them, and the Spanish public prosecutor must issue an individual report before a minor can be deported.

Many NGOs denounced the decision of the PSOE-Podemos government as an attack on fundamental rights. The British charity Save the Children has declared that “any collective repatriation of children and adolescents is illegal”. The Spanish government must carry out an “individual assessment of each child,” the NGO said, “prepare a process of hearings and pleas for each young person and collect information on the family of origin in Morocco”.

“Many of these children will be deported in a situation of risk to their safety,” said Andrés Conde, Managing Director of Save the Children in Spain. The association interviewed around 350 of the migrant children who entered Ceuta in May, and many said they had suffered sexual violence, labor exploitation, forced marriages and human trafficking in their home countries. origin.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, demanded that the Spanish Interior Ministry “suspend these deportations until every document has been inspected by the juvenile prosecutor’s office and ensures that they have acted in the best interests of the child. ‘child’.

It is “the obligation of the autonomous city of Ceuta to protect the rights of minors they find on their territory”, continued Amnesty International. “The Spanish authorities must in practice, and not just in rhetoric, ensure that the rights of the hundreds of unaccompanied minors in Ceuta come first. We have no evidence that this is the case. “

On August 24, the judicial suspension of evictions was confirmed as a “precautionary measure” by a new judgment. “The lifting of this measure would allow repatriation …” said the judge presiding over the case. “It would be absolutely ineffective to have rendered a verdict violating a fundamental right without having achieved the protection provided for a minor in Morocco.

A day later, PSOE Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez summoned Juan Jesús Vivas, president of the autonomous city of Ceuta, to Madrid to discuss plans to continue the evictions despite these decisions.

Far from stopping the expulsion orders, Sánchez and Vivas, a member of the right-wing Popular Party, doubled their plans. They have reportedly agreed to prevent the transfer of one of the migrants currently detained in Ceuta to mainland Spain and to continue to deal with deportations through the Aliens Act, rather than through the 2007 repatriation agreement with Morocco. . The law on foreigners stipulates that expulsion cases must be individualized and executed with the participation of the minor.

While the Aliens Act may slow the pace of deportations, Sánchez insisted that there would be no slack in the government’s anti-migrant plans and that children would be deported “as soon as possible” . In a government statement, Sánchez pledged to provide “triple support for the safe and orderly return of minors… with three axes: capacity, administration and diplomacy”.

Sánchez “promised to activate all resources in the hands of the state to return the minors to Morocco,” Vivas said at a press conference. “The only solution is to return to Morocco …”

Falsely and cynically attempting to present the deportation orders as intended for the welfare of migrant children, the statement said that Sánchez and Vivas “agreed on the need to prioritize the safe and orderly return of children. minors in their country of origin, in particular with the start of the school year, because their stay in Ceuta could greatly harm their educational development and increase their uprooting from their families.

The appalling and illegal treatment of the nearly 800 migrant children in Ceuta reveals the deceptive nature of the PSOE-Podemos government’s current attempts to impersonate humanitarians in its response to the US debacle in Afghanistan.

At the end of August, Irene Montero, Minister of Equality of Podemos and partner of former Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, declared that the priority of the Spanish government “must be women and LGBTI people in Afghanistan now and in the coming months. “. The PSOE-Podemos government “is doing everything possible to ensure that all who need it can leave the country,” Montero added.

These nauseating expressions of solidarity with the Afghan refugees must be dismissed with contempt. The mass expulsion orders of the PSOE-Podemos government demonstrate that there is no constituency for the defense of democratic rights in the ruling class. The task of defending the rights of refugees and migrants to live and work where they want lies with workers at the international level, as an essential part of defending the social and democratic rights of the entire working class.

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