Spain’s unemployed immigrants

The World

At this soup kitchen in a church, about a dozen men sit down for a hot meal. Many dining here have recently lost their jobs, including this 63 year old man from Russia. The man hasn’t worked in two months, but in the past during Spain’s housing boom he had been earning enough money for rent, food, and to send money home to his college-age sons, but the housing boom is over. The man lives in a condemned house with no running water or heat where occasionally wild pigs come in through a hole in the wall. The owner of the house is another Russian man, who lets the former construction worker stay here so that squatters don’t inhabit the building. He hopes Spain’s leaders can work the problem out but he’s desperate for work. The Spanish government has announced a plan to encourage illegal immigrants to leave: they’ll be paid all unemployment benefits in two big payments, half when you leave and half when you get home. It’s still too early to see if the plan will work, but the construction worker is skeptical because Russia is so expensive and he thinks the payments would last him about 6 months in Russia. Those sentiments are what attract many illegal immigrants to Spain.

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