“Immigrants abuse our social security” (and prisons?)
Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual
On the occasion of the International Day Against Racism, celebrated on 22nd of March, SOS Racismo and CanalSolidario.org (Spain) have decided to challenge some of the preconceptions and stereotypes that are currently abundant in the political and public discourse about foreigners. (Read the full article in Spanish, by Jordi de Miguel.)
Preconception 1. “Immigrants don´t have education.” But according to a report “Losing Opportunities” edited by Adela Ros, migrants from Eastern Europe and South America on average are better educated that Spaniards.
Preconception 2. “Immigrants abuse state healthcare because they don´t have it in their countries.” But according to the Spanish Society of Medical Care (semFYC), immigrants go to see a doctor about half the time the Spaniards do. Immigrants account for 10% of the total population, but only 5% of the total patients.
Preconception 3. “Immigrants abuse social security benefits.” But according to research gathered by Joan Oliver of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), the net of social security contributions minus social security costs generated by immigrants stood at 5 billion euros in favor of the Spanish state (data from 2008).
Preconception 4. “Prisons are full of immigrants because they break the law more often.” Experts agree that immigrants are indeed overrepresented in prisons, but not because they violate the law more often. Rather, the justice system acts much harsher towards foreigners. The police stops and detains them more often than Spaniards. Judges order their preventive detention more often because of uncertain residence. And since many immigrants do not have funds to pay fines or other civil liability costs, they are more likely to receive prison term instead.