Sin Papeles Actions in Barcelona

It's time to fight for Papers!

15.Jun.04 - On Saturday 5th June, more than 2000 'sin papeles' [immigrants without papers] occupied Barcelona Cathedral and the church Santa Maria del Pie, following a demonstration of about 5000 and a public assembly the previous week.

Police violently evicted the Cathedral in the very early hours of the morning and from the church the next day. An unknown number of people were detained. They are now facing certain deportation. The Assembly for Regulation Without Conditions has called for a Night of Reflection on June 11.

The immigrants did not have the support of the church, but many organisations of civil society have expressed solidarity. More demonstrations followed the next day in Barcelona, Madrid, Murcia, Huelva, Sevilla, Palma de Mallorca, Almeria, and Valencia.

While Barcelona’s 'Cultural Forum 2004' [sponsored by multinationals] appears to celebrate culture, peace, and sustainability, it remains obvious that some are not welcome. In fact many immigrants living ‘illegally’ in squatted abandoned buildings in Barcelona’s Poble Nou and San Andreu districts have been evicted and the buildings demolished to make room for housing developments connected to the Cultural Forum.

Sin Papeles and supporters are calling for the unconditional recognition and acceptance of responsibility by the authorities for the unstable situation [see the manifesto below]. Without official papers - residency and work permits - nobody can carry out banking transactions, or sign labor contracts, or travel out of the state, they cannot take money out of the bank, or freely move around.

Manifesto For The Unconditional Regularisation Of Immigrants

In Spain more than 50% of immigrants have no legal papers. We are the visible tip of an iceberg of life's precariousness affecting everyone equally .

In order to fight against this situation, we went out to the streets, we recognised our equals, we built a platform for struggle, we listened to other people's struggles at the Popular Assembly, we claimed a direct dialogue with the Administration, we banged our pans prior to elections, we received from Zapatero promises which affected us directly, we attended an interview with the renewed Generalitat de Cataluña... Yet, the Generalitat still treats us like 'a problem' and takes back, together with Central Government, the campaign promises and press announcements. We have knocked on all doors. Faced with silence and denial of our fundamental rights, for citizenship is achieved through the very exercising of itself...


The Assembly for the Unconditional Regularisation brings together different immigrant communities, organisations and citizens. Its aim is to fight for full access to full rights (civil, financial, social and political) and duties for immigrants in Spain.

We demand:

- A regularisation process for all the people living in Spain
- That no one is deprived of their rights because of Administration's inefficiency
- The cancellation of deportation orders not carried out and the end of all deportations
- An end to Police assault
- Closing down of all detention centres
- Repeal of the Immigration Law (Ley de Extranjería)
- A change in immigration policies.

1- A regularisation process for all the people living in Spain. In Spain there are around one million illegal immigrants, unprotected, with no rights and in a legal apartheid. It is a humanly intolerable and unacceptable situation for a so-called democratic State. The new PSOE government is talking about an apparent and confused individual regularisation for immigrants with job opportunities, and has discarded any extraordinary regularisation process. The majority of immigrants do not have a job. Women and children are victims of a double inequality. In conclusion, the regularisation process of those with job opportunities does not solve any problems; what is needed is a general regularisation with no conditions. Children, women and disabled people are being exploited by the mafias in the depths of the parallel economy.

2- An end to sudden irregularity: people 'with papers' who, due to the Administration's fault, become 'paperless' or illegal. The delay in processing papers, the bureaucratic barriers and the excessive expenditures inherent to the processing of papers, derive in lack of identity papers, traumatic living conditions, suffering and fear. The Immigration Ministry has more than 43,000 unanswered e-mails and 53,000 applications for the renewal of residence visas waiting to be processed. A lot of people have lost job opportunities, have not been able to travel abroad or have had trouble with police. More than 20,000 people have already lost their residence and working permits, or are about to, according to the Sub Secretary of Barcelona's Council. This number goes up by the day, because there are more applications coming in than there are being resolved.

3- The cancellation of deportation orders not carried out and the end of all deportations. The Interior Ministry opens deportation files to people arbitrarily detained on the street. By law, these people will never be able to be regularised. This results in thousands of people being made homeless, without a chance of getting a job, renting a home, etc.

4- An end to Police assault. Constant control, assault and detention carried out by Police provokes a day to day fear and a continuous sense of persecution. Also, a public image of immigration is portrayed as one linked to criminality and terrorism.

5- Closing down of all detention centres. Immigrants with a deportation order, which is not a crime but rather an administrative error, are kept in deplorable conditions. Many of the detention centres are located in buildings which originally functioned as prisons, but which now hold different legal considerations. The special spokeswoman for the UN recently informed that these centres are too full and that once there, immigrants do not count with any sort of judicial or consular protection, nor do they have appropriate legal defence, nor interpreters, nor information regarding necessary requirements for the regularisation of their situation.

6- Repeal of Immigration Law The Immigration Law institutionalises inequality and establishes a 'cast' system in a serious legal apartheid, namely, nationals and members of the EU, with full rights; the 'regular' outsiders of the EU, with very restricted rights; and the 'paperless' or illegal immigrants, with no rights at all, legally inexistent. The Immigration Law considers foreigners as 'goods': their 'welcome' is authorised based on exclusively productive criteria. This supposes the infringement of the fundamental principles of Human and Constitutional rights. Distinctions are made based on race, origin and social condition. It is not surprising that more than a hundred groups, including some political parties, have asked the Peoples' Defender to lodge an inquiry for unconstitutionality. Even the Basque Parliament has done so. The last reform, agreed between the PP and the PSOE, is the reflection of how political power understands the immigration phenomenon and the case that almost one million people are considered 'illegal'.

7- A new model of immigration policies. We denounce the model of immigration policies developed to present, restricted to one law and applying it in the harshest possible manner, not paying attention to the rest of the issues: social welfare, working conditions, integration and intercultural dialogue. We demand that every individual has a guarantee of his full rights (civil, political and social) and conditions of duties equal to those of nationals', including the right to vote. We demand that the right to immigrate is acknowledged, and that to carry it out in Spain ceases to suppose a trauma and an attempt against people's dignity. We ask for the abolition of the racist Shengen Treaty, freedom of circulation and residency for everyone, the acknowledgement of universal citizenship for everyone and the respect of an authentic right of asylum in all countries.

In the face of this desperate situation, this Assembly considers that all options are valid, including lockup.