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STAFF REPORTER

AS much as 75 percent of the population of the Balearic Islands are against immigration - whether legal or illegal - a survey carried out by the Gadeso Foundation claimed yesterday.

The main reasons for the dim view of outsiders coming to live in the Islands ranged from foreigners taking jobs that local people should have (60%), immigrant saturation of public facilities such as the regional health service (25%) and that even legal immigrants - distinct from illegal ones - showed no inclination to integrate into Balearic society.

The quarter partaking in the survey that had positive views about immigration pointed to the contribution they made to the Social Security system (45%), to the fact that many immigrants carried out jobs that people already living in the Islands don't want to do (30%), and to the idea that new social and cultural diversity has a healthy impact (25%).

Gadesa had carried out interviews within the framework of a study on the social climate in the Balearics. Some of the conclusions emerging showed that the socioeconomic crisis and high unemployment levels were promoting an increasingly negative view of immigration - regardless of where the foreign communities came from, and whether or not the immigrants were legal or illegal.

Three quarters of people taking part in the survey said that those immigrants who are in the Balearics illegally should be expelled because they are allegedly generating a black market in labour and housing (16%), committing crime largely out of desperation (54%), and they reportedly abuse public services (32%). Of those responding to questions on expulsion of illegal immigrants, 45 percent said they should be returned “immediately” to whatever country they had come from, whilst a similar amount of people said immigrants should be housed in holding centres until they can be repatriated safely.

On Ibiza, 82.2 percent of those interviewed said that lower salaries had “a lot to do” with the influx of immigrants, whilst the Foundation claimed that this figure dropped to 70.2 percent in the Balearics as a hole. Gadeso pointed out that whilst 60 percent of those responding to a poll in May 2008 said that immigrants don't want to integrate with the culture of the Islands, the figure had risen to 70.4% by March this year.

If an immigrant fails to secure work and earns no money for a long period of time, he (or she) should be expelled from Spain, said 87.6 percent of the population, whilst 94.5 percent said that immigrants who commit serious crime should be sent back to where they came from.

Another view of Balearic society is that standards in education in the Islands have dropped because teaching systems have had to adapt to meet the needs of a multi-cultural influx of immigrant children.