Immigration Law Spanish-Style II: A Study of Spain’s Voluntary Immigrant Return Plan and Circular Migration
25 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2011 Last revised: 2 Oct 2012
Date Written: November 29, 2011
In 2008, following the downturn in its economy, Spain undertook a bold experiment in circular migration, by enacting a voluntary repatriation plan Plan de Retorno Voluntario. This plan gave immigrant workers in the country who could not find employment in Spain the opportunity to return to their countries of origin and take with them their accrued unemployment benefits. After discussing the background and history of Spain’s immigration law, this article explores the current situation regarding immigrant workers in Spain, as well as the hardships faced by immigrants during the economic downturn. The article then examines the Plan de Retorno Voluntario itself, along with the policy analysis undertaken by the Spanish government as it decided to implement the plan. The article also discusses whether the Plan de Retorno Voluntario comports with the legal and policy norms of the European Union, of which Spain is a member. In particular, this piece takes into account the new EU policies regarding circular migration and examines Spain’s actions in the context of such policies. The article concludes by analyzing whether Plan de Retorno Voluntario can be considered a success, and discusses lessons that can be learned from this plan that was enacted in Spain.
Keywords: immigration law, unemployment benefits, Spain
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