Spanish parliament to consider legal status for undocumented migrants

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — parliament agreed Tuesday to consider legislation that could grant residency and work permits to hundreds of thousands of foreigners living in Spain without proper documentation. The proposal was brought to the Congress of Deputies in Madrid by citizen initiative after it obtained more than 700,000 signatures and the backing of some 900 organizations. ranging from migrant rights groups to Catholic associations. voted 310-33 to accept the proposal for consideration, with only the far-right VOX party voting against it. The legislation will now begin making its way through the lower house of parliament where it will be extensively debated and likely amended before its final version.The bill would grant legal status to foreigners who arrived in Spain before November 1, 2021, including hundreds of thousands of immigrants from and Africa. The law would not only allow them to live and work in Spain legally but also enable them to pay taxes, contribute to Social Security, and access healthcare, education and other public services.Between 390,000 to 470,000 foreigners live irregularly in Spain according to authors of the initiative. Many survive by working in the underground economy as fruit pickers, caretakers, delivery drivers, or other low-paid but essential jobs shunned by Spaniards. Without legal protections, they are often vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.The bill seeks to end a lack of visibility for the migrants, and grant them equal rights.At the same time, Spain’s government announced this week it plans to scrap so-called “golden visas” that allow wealthy people from outside the European Union to obtain residency permits after investing more than half a million euros (dollars) in real estate.