Society

The Multiple Faces Of Spain's Shifting Immigration Map

From Moroccan migrants to British pensioners, Spain has plenty of foreign-born residents. Each group differs, however, in terms of where and how they concentrate upon arrival.

Walking past a closed Chinese shop in Madrid's Usera district
Laura Aragó

BARCELONA — Mare Nostrum Avenue in Almería, a mid-sized city in southern Spain, is a dividing line between two realities. On one side, half the residents were born in Morocco; on the other, more than 98% of the population are native Spaniards. Likewise, the city center of Mazarrón, an hour-and-a-half drive up the coast, has little in common wth the surrounding suburbs, an expanse of detached homes where 60% of residents are British. And then there's Madrid's Usera neighborhood, which has developed a distinctly Asian profile: It's now home to 25% of the capital's registered Chinese residents.

Almería, Mazarrón and Usera are just three examples of the residential and communal segregation that divides Spain's territory into different realities and highlights growing inequalities. Typically, a community is segregated from the rest of the population when recently arrived members have fewer options in obtaining credit to access housing, as well as because of racism in the housing market.

While the situation in Spain is not comparable to ghettos in the United States or the Paris banlieue, there is a separation of national communities in Spain. The Moroccan community, as the largest and oldest among immigrant groups, is the most studied in terms of its segregation.

The autonomous communities of Catalonia and Andalusia together host more than 45% of the approximately 934,000 Spanish residents born in Morocco. Not surprisingly, it's also in those regions that the greatest contrasts are seen.

Along Almeria's Mare Nostrum avenue — Photo: Google Street View

As with other groups, economics is the decisive factor for Moroccans when it comes to residential location. Jordi Bayona, a researcher at the Center for Demographic Studies at Barcelona's Autonomous University says "foreigners follow very similar patterns to the rest of the population, and like any other group, find it very difficult to enter the highest-income neighborhoods."

This, he says, is due to economic restrictions and is exacerbated if there is a "white flight" process, whereby locals start moving away as more foreigners move into their district. Juan Carlos Checa, a geography professor at Almería University who studies residential segregation in Spain, observes that U.S. academics have fixed 22% foreign residents as "the inflection point when locals begin moving to other parts of the city with fewer foreigners."

Economics is also an enabling factor.

But economics is not merely restrictive. It can also be an enabling factor. Money is precisely the element that allows aging foreigners from the EU, as well as Britons, to isolate themselves on the Mediterranean coast, in gated communities where they spend their retirement years.

Spain is home to nearly 270,000 people born in the United Kingdom. More than half are distributed between Alicante, Murcia, Almería and Málaga. German and Danish pensioners have also moved to Spain in large numbers.

To understand other foreign communities, one must bear in mind that the smaller the community, the easier it is for contrasts within it to raise the segregation level. In academic terms, a group's segregation index is obtained by calculating a migrant group's numbers in any census sector, and comparing the figure with that community's proportional size throughout a locality.

That, Bayona explains, is why there are higher concentration levels among residents of Chinese or Pakistani origins than Moroccans, as the latter are evenly distributed. The same applies to Latin Americans whose characteristics and shared language aid a more even spread.

The Chinese community, which is 10th in Spain in terms of size, is especially concentrated in large urban areas like Madrid and Barcelona. And within those two cities, the community is mostly concentrated in specific neighborhoods.

In Malleu, Spain, boasts a strong Moroccan community — Photo: Google Street View

In Madrid, the epicenter is the Usera district, which some geographers have termed an "ethnic enclave." Usera's demographics contrast sharply with the rest of the city where — with the exception of the central part of Lavapies — the presence of Chinese immigrants is irrelevant in percentage terms.

In Barcelona, the pattern is repeated in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, where in a number of census sectors, people of Chinese origin represent the largest group of foreigners, constituting up to 30%. Likewise, the Pakistani community living in Sant Roc in Badalona is much more numerous than anywhere else in the Barcelona metropolitan area.

The arrival of nationals of other countries has in turn led to overlaps within domestic migratory flows, with some notable results. After more than 30 years of steady depopulation, an emptied Spain has become a fertile ground for this type of phenomenon.

Torre del Burgo, near the city of Guadalajara, attained sudden fame in January 2019 when the census revealed it to be the district with the most foreign residents. Almost 90% of its inhabitants were, and remain, born outside Spain. The vast majority (83%) are Bulgarians, drawn here by jobs in green asparagus farming. Demand for work has also impacted demographics in the neighboring village of Heras de Ayuso, where 40% of the population is Bulgarian.

The district of Fuente del Olmo de Fuentidueña, north of Segovia, has seen a similar process. The multinational Planasa works 120 greenhouses there for endives and other vegetables, and a shortage of farming hands drew about 90 Romanians, now more than half the district's residents.

The National Institute of Statistics counts all these foreigners as official residents in their given district, though that does not mean they are there throughout the year. Farming activities are seasonal, and when they end, many move to other provinces looking for work.

Migration can also produce more peculiar situations.

The International Labor Organization estimates that migrant workers make up 73% of all migratory flows worldwide. Spain itself sends out an average 67,000 work-seekers a year, based on average figures of the past decade.

Migration can also produce more peculiar situations, such as when relatives of those who emigrated in the past return as immigrants. That is precisely what has occurred in Avión, A Lama and Beariz in Galicia, which have relatively high concentrations (15-30%) of Latin Americans, especially from Brazil and Mexico.

One of those is the Mexican tycoon Olegario Vázquez Raña, a descendent of Galician emigrants who currently runs the successful Ángeles consortium and maintains a summer home in Avión, one of Spain's most prosperous districts. The higher proportion of Latin Americans in Avión is exceptional, even across Spain.

Bayona points out that compared to Pakistanis or even Moroccans, Latin Americans don't tend to live in such high concentrations. Sharing the Spanish language is one reason, but it also has to do with how heterogeneous Latin Americans are in socio-economic terms.

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Thousands of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, on the border between Mexico and the U.S.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Сайн уу*

Welcome to Friday, where the new U.S.-UK-Australia security pact is under fire, Italy becomes the first country to make COVID-19 "green pass" mandatory for all workers, and Prince Philip's will is to be kept secret for 90 years. From Russia, we also look at the government censorship faced by brands that recently tried to promote multiculturalism and inclusiveness in their ads.

[*Sain uu - Mongolian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• U.S. facing multiple waves of migrants, refugees: The temporary camp, located between Mexico's Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio in Texas, is housing some 10,000 people, largely from Haiti. With few resources, they are forced to wait in squalid conditions and scorching temperatures amidst a surge of migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. Meanwhile, thousands of recently evacuated Afghan refugees wait in limbo at U.S. military bases, both domestic and abroad.

• COVID update: Italy is now the first European country to require vaccination for all public and private sector workers from Oct. 15. The Netherlands will also implement a "corona pass" in the following weeks for restaurants, bars and cultural spaces. When he gives an opening speech at the United Nations General Assembly next week, unvaccinated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will defy New York City authorities, who are requiring jabs for all leaders and diplomats.

• U.S. and UK face global backlash over Australian deal: The U.S. is attempting to diffuse the backlash over the new security pact signed with Australia and the UK, which excludes the European Union. The move has angered France, prompting diplomats to cancel a gala to celebrate ties between the country and the U.S.

• Russian elections: Half of the 450 seats in Duma are will be determined in today's parliamentary race. Despite persistent protests led by imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny, many international monitors and Western governments fear rigged voting will result in President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party maintaining its large majority.

• Somali president halts prime minister's authority: The decision by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed marks the latest escalation in tensions with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble concerning a murder investigation. The move comes as the Horn of Africa country has fallen into a political crisis driven by militant violence and clashes between clans.

• Astronauts return to Earth after China's longest space mission: Three astronauts spent 90 days at the Tianhe module and arrived safely in the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia. The Shenzhou-12 mission is the first of crewed missions China has planned for 2021-2022 as it completes its first permanent space station.

• Prince Philip's will to be kept secret for 90 years: A British court has ruled that the will of Prince Philip, the late husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth who passed away in April at 99 years old, will remain private for at least 90 years to preserve the monarch's "dignity and standing."

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

With a memorable front-page photo, Argentine daily La Voz reports on the open fight between the country's president Alberto Fernández and vice-president Cristina Kirchner which is paralyzing the government. Kirchner published a letter criticizing the president's administration after several ministers resigned and the government suffered a major defeat in last week's midterm primary election.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

€150

An Italian investigation uncovered a series of offers on encrypted "dark web" websites offering to sell fake EU COVID vaccine travel documents. Italy's financial police say its units have seized control of 10 channels on the messaging service Telegram linked to anonymous accounts that were offering the vaccine certificates for up to €150. "Through the internet and through these channels, you can sell things everywhere in the world," finance police officer Gianluca Berruti told Euronews.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

In Russia, brands advertising diversity are under attack

Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

❌ "On behalf of the entire company, we want to apologize for offending the public with our photos..." reads a recent statement by Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi after publishing an advertisement that included a photograph of a Black man. Shortly after, the company's co-founder, Konstantin Zimen, said people on social media were accusing Yobidoyobi of promoting multiculturalism. Another recent case involved grocery store chain VkusVill, which released advertising material featuring a lesbian couple. The company soon began to receive threats and quickly apologized and removed the text and apologized.

🏳️🌈 For the real life family featured in the ad, they have taken refuge in Spain, after their emails and cell phone numbers were leaked. "We were happy to express ourselves as a family because LGBTQ people are often alone and abandoned by their families in Russia," Mila, one of the daughters in the ad, explained in a recent interview with El Pais.

🇷🇺 It is already common in Russia to talk about "spiritual bonds," a common designation for the spiritual foundations that unite modern Russian society, harkening back to the Old Empire as the last Orthodox frontier. The expression has been mocked as an internet meme and is widely used in public rhetoric. For opponents, this meme is a reason for irony and ridicule. Patriots take spiritual bonds very seriously: The government has decided to focus on strengthening these links and the mission has become more important than protecting basic human rights.Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"Ask the rich countries: Where are Africa's vaccines?"

— During an online conference, Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, implored the international community to do more to inoculate people against COVID-19 in Africa and other developing regions. The World Health Organization estimates that only 3.6% of people living in Africa have been fully vaccinated. The continent is home to 17% of the world population, but only 2% of the nearly six billion shots administered so far have been given in Africa, according to the W.H.O.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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