Joan Collins
THE President of the Balearic Federation of Immigrant Associations, Marlene Perea, said yesterday that it was “logical” that more than half of all Majorcans think that there are too many immigrants on the island and in reality the island is in the process of creating a multicultural society. Perea was referring to the poll taken by the Gadeso Foundation about Majorcan society's perception of immigrants, and reported in yesterday's Bulletin. She described the results as “important”, although she said there was “no cause for alarm”. She underlined the fact that these statistics reflected a “normal” reaction which was to be found in all countries with an immigrant population. “Now the local population is startled and that could generate racist attitudes”, she commented. Nevertheless, she said that the “core of the question” is the generation of a multicultural society. She called upon the institutions of the islands to create their own plan for integration, taking into account the cases of France, England and Germany, countries which, she said, “had not been able to satisfy the needs of the immigrant population”. The Gadeso study says that the main change in the preoccupations of the Balearic residents is the question of immigration, which now occupies second place in the list of things which worry the residents of Majorca and Ibiza although it drops to fourth place in Minorca and, in the case of Formentera isn't even among the principal causes of worry. According to the study, some 40 percent of Balearic residents consider the arrival of foreign workers a worrying aspect for social life in the islands, although with “different relevance” depending on the level of new residents in each place. In fact, according to a study by the CIS (Government Research Centre), some 59.6 percent of Spanish people think that there are “too many” immigrants. However, in the Gadeso poll that percentage went to 60.1 percent for the Majorcans; 62.2 percent for Ibizans; 44 percent for Minorcans; and 45.5 percent for those on Formetera. With regard to entry restrictions for new immigrants, 86 percent of Balearic residents thought that only those with a job should be allowed in (80 percent in Minorca and Formentera), while 7.5 percent were of the opinion that no more new immigrants should be allowed in, and 2.2 percent said that there should be no restrictions. Undoubtedly, these figures were not the same for all residents. Full time workers were most opposed to the arrival of more immigrants because they considered them as “possible rivals” for jobs. This is because the job market is currently very unpredictable, in spite of a drop in unemployment. With regard to the rights which it was considered immigrants to the Balearics should have, 68.1 percent agreed that they should be able to bring their families to the islands, 90.8 percent thought they should have access to public education and 82.4 percent thought they should have access to public health services, 80.4 percent thought they should have access to a job with the same working conditions as Spanish workers. Every time there is a poll of this nature, as with this one by the Gadeso Foundation, the greatest preoccupation among the citizens is the economy, which is attributed to the “lack of clarity in the perspectives for the future”, and the difficulties of the domestic economy which 28 percent of Balearic residents said worried them.

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