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Spousal reunification among recent immigrants in Spain: links with undocumented migration and the labour market

Autor González Ferrer, Amparo
Palabras clave Spousal Reunification
Undocumented Migration
Labour Market
Fecha de publicación 2011
EditorAmsterdam University Press
Citación Gender, Generations and the Family in International Migration: 394 pp. (2011)
Serie Section II, Cap.8
ResumenIn March 2007, one of the most widely read Spanish newspapers published the following heading: ‘Family reunification opens the door to 245,000 new immigrants in only three years. Government says a second stage in the migratory process is starting’. The Secretary of State of Immigration stated that this increase in the number of foreigners who had been granted a residence permit on the basis of family reunification must be seen as a good sign because ‘[…] family reunification is a factor that promotes settlement’ and ‘[…] favours integration into the host society and reduces the immigrants’ risk of social isolation’. In the same vein, some researchers on immigration said that this trend will continue in the near future since ‘family reunification is practiced by people who have consolidated their migration project after achieving economic stability and social integration’ (El País, 15th March 2007). These statements indirectly suggest that labour immigration to Spain is progressively declining as many migrants, who initially came as temporary workers, extend their stay and start to bring their families over for the purpose of settlement. Accordingly, family reunification is described as a secondary flow that is initiated once first-movers have lived in the immigration country long enough to make the necessary arrangements to send for their relatives. As a result of this view, family-linked immigration is often equated to legal family reunification and ‘de facto’ family reunification is completely neglected, which in turn reinforces the view of family-linked migration as a secondary flow. In countries where undocumented immigration has become a chronic and structural feature, as in the case of Spain, this view might be particularly misleading in describing and understanding the household dimension of international migration and integration. To shed some light on these issues, I have utilised both official aggregate statistics and survey data to examine the size and pace of the family reunification process in Spain, as well as to analyse whether different family migration patterns are associated with differences in the behaviour of foreign immigrants in the host labour market. The obtained results strongly challenge the image provided by the Spanish government with regard to family reunification. On the one hand, my analyses indicate that family reunification –at least, the reunification of spouses- has been substantial and quite rapid in recent years. Moreover, the data suggest that spousal reunification on the fringes of the law has actually been much more common in Spain than legal reunification, which could be related to the rigidity of the legal regime, the inefficiency of the immigration administration and the soft enforcement of internal controls. In addition, variations in the manner in which family migration is organised appear to affect the performance of immigrants.
Versión del editorhttp://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/G/bo12379155.html
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10261/93166
ISBN 978 90 8964 2851
E-ISSN978 90 4851 3611
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