Catalan PP continues its xenophobic campaign

This morning on Els Matins, Barcelona mayoral candidate for the PPC (Catalan PP), Alberto Fernández, made it clear that his party is committed to the xenophobic campaign line it has been pursuing for some time here.

After declaring that “Yes“, he has “‘prejudices’ against immigrants” (‘nouvinguts’ or ‘newcomers’ in Catalan, a word which sounds nicer but is generally used in the same reactionary arguments), Fernández went on to insist that “immigrants should comply with the law that we ourselves comply with“. He also said that immigrants who need to apply for or renew their papers should have to go to the city hall and obatain a document to prove they “have no obstacles [sic] with anyone“, and that immigrants “who come to Catalonia to commit crime should be expelled“. Then he went on to claim that Barcelona has become “the capital of antisocial behaviour and crime” which should be dealt with via “a firm hand“.

If you’ve been following the language of the PP in Catalonia, none of this should come as a surprise. But that doesn’t make any of it less disgusting. Of course, we expect the hard right to be thoroughly unpleasant. And that’s why they should be opposed. That said, the two quotes which most got my attention were the ones about complying with the law and coming here to commit crime.

When Fernández says that immigrants should comply with the law, same as anyone else, that isn’t what he is saying. What he’s saying is “immigrants commit loads of crimes and they get away scot free”. I shouldn’t need to point out that the Generalitat has already changed the law concerning petty crime to make it easier to convict bag thieves on the Metro and the Rambles. But how many immigrants are bag thieves anyway? How many steal copper? And is he really talking about immigrants? I’m an immigrant in Catalonia. There are lots of other UK, Italian, French, German and Dutch immigrants here. Does he include them when he says “immigrants”, or does he just mean “immigrants from outside the EU”.

If you read the Shite Press in BCN (pretty much the only press available here), you may have noticed a generally accepted dichotomy between ‘comunitarios’ (‘EU citizens’) and ‘inmigrantes’ (‘immigrants’). What I’ve found hard to understand is that Romanians are often listed with the immigrants, even though they’re EU citizens. Because if, as I suspect, Fernández is talking about non-EU citizens except Romanians, then I think we’re on the verge of spotting where his real prejudice lies. But if, on the other hand, he means to include the French suspect in the Drassanes murder case then perhaps he means to include me in his use of ‘immigrants’. Which he almost certainly is not doing.

As to the immigrants who come here to commit crime, well there probably are a few. There are probably also Spaniards from elsewhere in Spain who come here to commit crime, and Catalans who live here to commit crime. The problem is: how do you prove that someone has come here to commit crime? You obviously can’t. The only thing he can mean is that immigrants who commit a crime should be expelled. And that leads us to the issue of definitions again.

If, as must happen, an immigrant commits a crime here without having come here with the express intention of committing that crime, that immigrant should not be expelled. Actually, Fernández didn’t say this, and it’s not logically safe to give him the benefit of the doubt here. No, he almost certainly means that any immigrant who commits any crime should be expelled.

And not once does he or that idiot Cuní state the percentage of crimes committed by immigrants, or the percentage of immigrants who commit crimes, or how those figures compare with people born here. So what we’re left with is the clear implication that immigrants and crime are somehow inextricably linked and that the best thing for it is expulsion and special treatment.

Don’t vote for the PP.

13 thoughts on “Catalan PP continues its xenophobic campaign

  1. We’re luxury immigrants, Tom. Matter of fact, legally we’re not immigrants, we’re EU-citizens. But then, you’re right: what about the Romanians? France could expel some, why should Spain not? The basis would be the same: racism, and the worst form of it, the kind that is used in political campaigning. Actually, it’s not about the immigrants at all. It’s about getting some petty votes. And if that means to stigmatise whole groups of people, it seems to be quite ok. Because those people do not count. They’re not even meat, they’re not even numbers, they’re just a figment.

    When crimes are committed those should be dealt with by the police. But hey, the US even goes to war. So Fernández is only chicken shit.

    That said, aren’t the Cataloonies doing something quite similar? Immigrants now have to learn Catalan first to get to stay. They are given no choice between the two co-official languages. And again, that does not apply to us, Tom. The loonies have no leverage on us. We have the right to stay. We even have the right not to learn Catalan, or Spanish for that matter.

    There’s a weaker link, and enough cowards around to attack it. I have the feeling that I might be next, I’m sure I’m just lucky now. In fact, the next ones under attack will be the the in-country immigrants. Voting for the PSC, the party of the Spanish immigrant worker, is now officially treason, I mean as official as Rahola’s word gets, which is actually pretty much in terms of ideology.

    Next is vox populi, calling the PSC voters (yes, all of them) a fifth column.
    (see comment by Guillemrm, 12/05/2011 | 05:46h)

    Or a cancer.
    (see comment by dalbert, 11/05/2011 | 13:15h)

    The economic situation is dire. Scapegoats have to be found. And the holy nation of Catalonia is at risk, too. So more scapegoats have to be found.

    StrubellTroete has gone entirely proto-fascist:

    You speak of Fernández (and you are right), I speak of a sign of the times. This is much bigger than just one despicable party. And you and me, Tom, we’ll see our turn coming. Because after all, we’re just immigrants, like our brothers from Romania. Or Ghana. Or Málaga.

    Wait, maybe they’re trying to take even that away from us:

    Aren’t they calling us “New Catalans”? (Is anybody calling us “New Spaniards”?) Have they asked your permission to put you in that group? They sure haven’t asked mine. Because I don’t count. They’ve already started with me! My turn has already come.

    So we can be expelled, left without a choice or have an identity imposed on us. All just depending on the whims of the politician or other talking head of the day.

    This is a country your homeland and mine have sunk billions into to make it viable. Screen high five, Tom.

    And still there is something immensely funny hidden here: immigrant-bashing Alberto Fernández Díaz is just someone else’s immigrant. In racism there’s always a hierarchy; mostly with an absolute bottom, but never with a topside.

    1. EU Citizen & Immigrant are not mutually exclusive, though in Spanish law, one term may be used in quite a narrow sense. If you move elsewhere for whatever reason, you’re an immigrant of sorts.

      1. Sure, whatever the law says, I will always be an immigrant in the very sense of the word. I’ll keep saying that I’m from nation y, living in country x until the day I die, or move back to where I came from. I’m an immigrant, and that’s fine for me, even though I much believe in being a European. (Oh, latest news is that border controls are up again. The issue gets even bigger.)

  2. Again I say, let’s not think it’s only the PP:

    What is also interesting here are quite some comments that totally oppose this op-ed, especially those coming from “sergi”. Right now he has two up that refer to research done on the economic impact of immigration, on which, I think, La Vanguardia itself did some articles. Anybody who wants can follow up on “sergi’s” leads.

    Such comments leave room for hope. However, more often than not politicos have acted on instinct instead of reason. They are the problem, not us.

    1. I think the PP is responsible for this increase in xenophobia.

      It is also almost wholly responsible for the ‘problem’ it is trying to convince us of.

      1. Spain is coming in late, hurray, on the xenophobia train. Other European countries have this problem for much longer already. Hurray.

        What I wanted to illustrate with my last quote is the danger that if one party goes xenophobic, others might follow out of fear to lose part of their electorate. Germany and France are some examples.

        Let me also remind you of the incidents in Vic last year.

        If other European countries can serve as a harbinger, Spain is in for interesting times.

      2. I think the current crisis, coupled with 5 million unemployed are responsible for the increase in xenophobia. People look around trying to find what’s wrong, why they have problems, why they can’t find a job. And they see how immigrants have certain benefits over local population and… there you have it.

        PP and some other parties are sadly taking advantage of it.

          1. Education related, as related by several friends who have children:
            – Immigrants have preference on school registration.
            – They have access to free grants for books and lunch which Spanish children don’t have.
            – School trips paid by the APMA (I haven’t heard this one first hand, so can’t verify it).

            Business related… They don’t have to pay taxes for the first 5 years (that’s how some Chinese shops can still make some profit while their stock is sell for so little).

            They can get the full unemployment pay at once if they decide to return to their countries. I asked for mine last year (had an idea for a business) and was told I could only get 60% of the whole amount (and had to present the business plan first).

            Also, banks now are talking about accepting payment on account of mortgages (USA style) for immigrants only, since it’s costly to chase them to their countries if they flee Spain. But Spanish people still won’t be allowed to.

            There might be other things, I wouldn’t know.

            So hmm… Imagine you’re at your own house and you’re not allowed to take anything from the fridge, but your spouse invites people in and allows them. How long till you get so hungry that you start asking yourself why are you discriminated in your own house? How long until you get fed up with it?

            That’s what’s starting to happen right now, as I see it. The crisis makes people hungry and they start pondering, why they can’t get the same treatment the guests get? Why, if they pay their taxes, can’t reap the benefits just the same? And I do think it’s a valid point.

            No, I don’t have anything against immigrants. Hey, I moved to the UK, so I am now technically an immigrant, too! And in my opinion, be it Spain, the UK or wherever, people should either have the same exact rights or earn them after some time, if they are foreign.

            I know I would be annoyed if I had children and they couldn’t get in a school in Spain because they are Spanish (or in the UK because they are not English). Discrimination, positive or negative, is still discrimination and sooner or later ends up angering someone.

            My 2p

            P.S. Sorry to derail a bit from the initial post direction (Candide’s fault! :P)

          2. Thanks Aby. That’s interesting. But are you sure? I heard about the 5-years-rule (or rather ex(c)e(m)ption) more than a year ago, consulted in my gestoría and there I was told that it’s an urban legend.

            I’ll check again, as I will the school related issues.

          3. Ah, I could be wrong on that one then. It’s something quite extended, since I’ve heard it from various sources over time.

          4. That’s how legends work. The question is not about the number of sources but about their quality.

            I’ve missed an opportunity to check today, but I won’t let the next one get lost too.

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