There are many things on the Ecuadorian mind here in Spain. For many, their first and foremost reason for immigrating to Spain has been influenced by the economy or lack thereof in their home country. Whether they are sending money back to their families in Ecuador or simply saving their money for their future, past assurances of jobs and wealth have brought them to Spain over the years.
Now the current economic crisis in Spain is causing large sectors of the population to return to Ecuador. From my conversations, Ecuadorians that are leaving seem to be bringing everything with them, which would indicate that they are planning to return to Ecuador for good. One man brought 23 suitcases with him to the airport, while another brought 12 suitcases and two dogs. Surely, this is in part influenced by “Plan Bienvenidos a Casa,” but has also led me to question the relationship between immigrants and their host country.
Additionally, there also seems to be fear instilled within the people I’ve spoken to that their jobs are at risk. Many worry that they will not be able to find another job if they are let go, but also note that they are being overworked because their employers are not willing to hire an adequate number of workers. News of the economic crisis airs daily and it’s not just immigrants who fear that their jobs are in jeopardy.
Many Ecuadorian immigrants who come to Spain become eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship after being here for two years. With dual citizenship they are granted more rights as Spanish citizens, but even Ecuadorians with Spanish citizenship fear the loss of their job. While the economic crisis is affecting everyone in Spain, large numbers of immigrants who have lost their jobs are leaving. This seems to suggest that besides the economic factor of living in Spain, not much else is keeping them here.
Posted by Robin Whitney – MA Candidate at CLACS