Spain's amnesty program for illegal aliens is heightening tension over immigration policy in Europe. The Socialist-led government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero announced on Feb. 6 that it would grant temporary residence permits to illegal aliens who could prove they had been in the country at least 6 months, and had jobs and no criminal record. An estimated 500,000 to 800,000 workers could qualify. Although France and Italy in the past offered similar amnesties, most Western European countries now are pushing for stricter limits. On Feb. 7, Britain said it would begin fingerprinting people entering the country on visas and institute a point system that will screen out most unskilled workers seeking legal entry. Britain, Denmark, and Germany have expressed alarm that Spain's action could spur more immigrants to enter Europe illegally in hopes of later gaining amnesty.
Edited by Rose Brady