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Spain: Out of Africa

By Julia Hursh

    Las Ramblas is a fun area in Barcelona where I spent much of my time in Spain. It was in this area that I saw many signs of migration from all over the world. I met a woman from Austria who now lives in Barcelona because her husband is from Spain, a chef from India who moved to Barcelona recently and I also saw many Moroccans and Algerians on the streets who were obvious migrants from Africa.

    Of all the people that I met, it is the African migration that I found the most interesting. Many people within Europe move to other countries in Europe for work, spouses or other reasons. Many of the Africans that migrate do so in search of labor as well but in a much more dangerous manner. Most of the Spain readings for class included information about the flow of people from sub-Saharan Africa to Morocco to Europe. According to Stephen Castles and Mark J. Miller in The Age of Migration, “ In 2001, the Association of Moroccan Immigrant Workers in Spain estimated that nearly 4000 Moroccans alone had died trying to cross the Straight of Gibraltar over the preceding five years.” The book goes on to explain that “suddenly denied legal access to the French labor markets, Moroccans sought employment in Italy and Spain.”  Hence my observations of North Africans migrants in Spain.

   I was previously unfamiliar with this migration, but it reminds me of the migration closer to home. I live in San Diego, California so I frequently hear about and see the migration of people across the Mexico and U.S. border. According to The Age of Migration, “2000 migrants had died since 1994” trying to cross into the United States from Mexico and this pattern has continued annually since then. Both of these situations involve migrants illegally going from a poorer to a wealthier country for work. Unfortunately these people cannot get visas or work permits so they must go along a dangerous path to leave their country and try to find work in another one.

   Seeing the Africans on the streets in Barcelona passing out fliers to clubs and trying to sell things reminded me of the Mexicans in San Diego that are also looking for work in a foreign land. Even though they are across the world from each other, they have similar paths in life as they search for work and a better life.

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