Wednesday, August 4

Getting the papers for heroic acts: an extraordinary route questioned by anti-racist groups

He had little time left until he was three years old in Spain when Ibrahima collided at dawn with the brutal beating of homophobic dyes that ended the life of Samuel, the young homosexual murdered in A Coruña. The Senegalese citizen, together with his compatriot Magatte, intervened to try to help the victim and his friends, and received some blows while trying to stop the attack.

What would the life of the “Spiderman” who saved a child in France be like if he had never been a hero?

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After it was discovered that these two people, whose testimony has been “key” in the investigation, resided in Galicia without papers, the Government has announced that it will proceed with their regularization due to exceptional circumstances.

“In situations of this type, in which behaviors of humanity and civic commitment occur, putting their own life at risk, the State has the obligation to morally recognize those values ​​with something as simple as the documentation that allows them to work in Spain” , explained this Tuesday in Cadena Ser the Secretary of State for Migration, Jesús Perea, who assured that the intention of the Executive is to resolve the regularization procedure in a “very short period of time.” The measure is extraordinary, since the Immigration Law obliges people who arrive in Spain without papers to face harsh requirements to get regularized.

Most of the undocumented migrants must live clandestinely in the country for at least three years before being able to request their documentation through arraigo, which includes the presentation of an indefinite employment contract, a requirement that is complicated to obtain as well. for any Spanish citizen or with a residence permit, taking into account the current situation of the labor market.

According News telecincoIbrahima, the man who stopped the first attack against Samuel, was about to reach that three-year period of stay in Spain imposed by the regulations to begin processing his residence permit. During this time, he worked as a street vendor and gave Spanish classes at the NGO Desarrollo Gaia, with the aim of training to become employed in the fishing sector once his situation had been regularized, according to the organization reported to this medium.

After the announcement of the Secretary of State for Migration, Ibrahima and Magatte will be able to avoid these requirements and will obtain a residence and work permit in a “short term”. The Immigration regulations include provisions that allow “proceeding to document due to exceptional circumstances” to persons in an irregular situation, usually granted for humanitarian reasons. These are, according to Jesús Pereira, “extraordinary, specific and assessed” cases that the Administration must “prove with the maximum of tools” to request it.

Both citizens collaborated in the police investigation, with a “key” testimony to be able to identify the detainees. According to the Secretary of State himself, they did so despite the risk that people without papers face when they go to a police station to report a crime. There are several documented cases of migrants in an irregular situation who, when they go to police offices to file a complaint, the agents initiate their expulsion procedures from the country. After a complaint from the Valencia Acoge organization, the Ombudsman recommended to the Ministry of the Interior “to issue the precise instructions” with the aim that these people without papers “alleged victims of a crime can file a complaint without being referred, for this cause, to the initiation of a sanctioning procedure that entails his expulsion from the national territory “. However, the Secretary of State for Security refused to accept it.

Other “heroes” without papers

The case of Ibrahima and Magatte reminds Mouhammad Fadal Diouf. The 27-year-old, also Senegalese, participated in the rescue of a man who fell into the Bilbao estuary at the end of June. The images of Mohammad in the water trying to save the life of a man, were disseminated by different media. It was not the first time, he had already saved a woman in the same place. In an interview with the Newspaper Deia, the citizen said that, after four years in Spain and after taking a sailor training course, he had still not managed to meet all the requirements to get the papers. A request for collected more than 47,000 signatures to request the government to regularize it, but the Executive has not responded to this request.

In France, Mamoudou Gassama appeared in the international media for another heroic act. The young man climbed four floors in a few seconds to save the life of a child who was clinging to the railing of a balcony about to fall from the top of a building. He was known as the ‘Spiderman’ of Paris.

This citizen was one of the thousands of migrants who crossed the Mediterranean from Libya, the deadliest route in the world. Once in Italy, the trip had to continue to France, the community country where his brother lived, according to After his epic rescue, his life in France was turned upside down: “It is a gesture of heroism. I wish we can make an exceptional decision with you,” French President Emmanuel Macron promised him in 2018, the same one who wanted to further complicate his life. stay in the country before his heroic gesture, through a clarification of immigration law. After having received him at the Elysee, the president announced the decision of his naturalization, as well as the granting of a job in the fire department. Gassama would hardly have had access to these opportunities if he did not have that enormous strength and agility, which is why several French NGOs criticized the “hypocrisy” of boasting the young man while a new immigration law began to be debated in the Senate, which sought to facilitate expulsions.

Anti-racist collectives then saw a “racist background” in the fact that the news of heroic acts committed by immigrants, especially if they are in an irregular situation, tend to be very prominent in the media more than if the person dealing with an extraordinary event was European. “Accustomed to the news with undocumented immigrants being related to negative events, when a positive one arises, it draws attention because, suddenly, they are humanized,” the journalist and activist Moha Gerehou analyzed then in “The good immigrant deserves to be recognized as a person only if he climbs, not to save his life, but that of European citizens,” Youssef Ouled wrote in this line in an article published in esRacism.

After the government’s announcement to regularize the two Senegalese who tried to help Samuel, Ouled maintains his perspective: “The lives of migrants and racialized people only make sense when they put themselves at risk to sustain the lives of white people,” he explains. to “It is a tricky speech because those who have sustained life during the pandemic, for example, have been the temporary migrant workers without papers who have worked without pause and without the measures available to the rest. For them there is no regularization.”

The activist refers to the request to undertake a massive regularization of undocumented migrants after confinement, launched by more than 100 organizations and groups that defended the extra vulnerability of people living in Spain in an irregular situation during the health crisis, despite that thousands of them were clandestinely employed in activities considered essential, such as domestic work or picking fruit.

Carolina Elías, spokesperson for the Active Domestic Service organization, has welcomed the Government’s announcement to grant the papers to the citizens who tried to help Samuel. “It seems very positive to me, they deserve it for risking their own life and their situation in Spain, but we would love for this to be extended to many more cases. It is a media case, but there are more cases,” says Elías, who quotes the domestic workers. “The State must see that the people who have been in the front line caring for the homes, who were confined to the place of residence of the elderly person, have exposed their life and health are also heroines who deserve regularization, and including nationalization for this cause, as we have demanded so much since Regularization Now, “says the activist.

The same thinks Seydou Diop, spokesman for Asnuci, who supports the seasonal workers in Huelva. “I’m very happy that they gave them the papers, they helped the investigation and they took a risk. They deserve it,” he says. However, he remembers his fellow day laborers: “During the confinement, we were heroes because we stood up for Spain. We picked the fruit and did not stop, so we asked for a gesture of recognition to dignify ourselves, but they did not listen to us.”

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