Staff Reporter
SOME 400 people from different parts of the world staged a protest yesterday outside the Foreigners' Office in Palma. They were demonstrating against new immigration laws, passed by central government and in force as of yesterday. Similar, bigger demonstrations will be organised over the next few weeks, they warned. The USO union believes that the new statutes violate human rights and criticised the new measures for obtaining a visa, under which the immigrant will have to go to the Spanish consulate in his country of origin and wait three months to see if the permit is granted. “There is virtually no chance of getting legal papers” complained Linda Chancay, the union's spokesman. “The papers are denied if the applicant hasn't got work, and there are people who have been waiting since 2001 and 2002. The situation at the moment is very insecure” emphasisd USO. The demonstrators, particularly those from Morocco and Ecuador, chanted in Spanish words to the effect of “the new immigration laws are a mockery”. Proceedings unfolded amidst hordes of foreigners massing in queues outside the entrance doors to the office in calle Ciudad de Queretaro. For hours, they waved placards which read “the foreigners' law violates human rights” and “No to the new foreigners' law. We demand fair treatment”. The Balearic Workers' Commission (CCOO) told the media that the “reform” will mean greater exploitation of “black market” labour, and increased difficulty in accessing special social services, perhaps for those immigrants really needing them. There will be a dangerous tendency, claimed the CCOO, for the police to impose stricter controls on immigrant populations and for such populations to be regarded in a “different category” from established citizens. Eva Serveiriña, CCOO spokesman, condemned central government for not having a correctly thought-out immigration policy, because the reform that has just been passed is the third one to date. She furthermore viewed the amendment as “failing to adapt to European by-laws as it is a backward step and fails to tackle discrimination in the workplace. “Our work will continue as long as central government keeps turning a deaf ear to the petitions of immigrant associations and unions” confirmed the Workers' Commission, who added that the question of immigration needs to stop being a local election issue and become integrated in State policy. The CCOO believes that a victory for the Spanish Socialist Workers party (PSOE) in the 2004 general elections would mean that there would be some light at the end of the tunnel if a government of at least “some sensibility” were to come to power and address the issue of the needs of workers and immigrants in Spain.

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