New rightwing party leaders are convinced that immigration will be a vote-winner, but on the front line in Algeciras there is more frustration than alarm
The fan that stirs the humid air in José Villahoz’s small office does little to dissipate the heat, the fatigue or the frustration. Another summer is upon southern Spain and once again the perilous pateras (small boats) are arriving on a daily basis, once again the reception system is creaking under their weight, and once again, Villahoz says, the warnings of all the previous months and years have gone unheeded.
The only thing different about the summer of 2018 is the surge in the number of migrants and refugees arriving – 27,000 and rising, mostly by sea – and the political reactions that have greeted it. Thirty years after Spain was first shocked to find the body of a migrant washed up on its shores, and scarcely six weeks after the new government took in 630 people on the rescue ship Aquarius who had been turned away by Italy and Malta, some rightwing politicians have begun to talk of identity papers, more border controls and “millions of Africans” wanting to come to Europe.