Canary Islands overwhelmed by wave of illegal immigration with 8,500 new arrivals in two weeks

By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

At least 8,561 illegal migrants have landed on the Canary Islands in the past two weeks as the Spanish archipelago’s own migration crisis spirals out of control.

The figures, published by the Spanish Interior Ministry on Monday, represent more than a third of all arrivals recorded so far this year.

A total of 23,537 illegal migrants have reached the Spanish territories in 2023, up 80 percent from the figures recorded for the same period last year, and local officials are sounding the alarm as public services become saturated and the islands’ security comes under threat.

President of the Canary Islands Fernando Clavijo said he was “amazed” and “perplexed” by the left-wing Spanish government’s “total silence” over the escalation of the migrant crisis on the islands, and police officials warned that resources are overstretched.

“It is true that by diverting staff to assist these people, we once again find ourselves with an insufficient number of patrol cars in such essential services as public safety,” said José Luis Gallardo, the spokesperson for the Spanish Police Confederation (CEP).

With the daily number of new arrivals this month averaging above 500, the main asylum center in Arrecife on the island of Lanzarote is above capacity and immigrants are being temporarily housed in tents in the port of Naos.

While in Tenerife, police officers were forced to move their cars from a secure police station garage in Las Americas in order to enable groups of illegal migrants to sleep on the garage floor.

120 migrants sleep in the garage of the South Tenerife Police Station

Clavijo warned recently that the situation is expected to deteriorate further. He cited the political instability in Senegal, the decrease in Ukrainian grain reaching Africa resulting in increased famine, and the EU’s focus on the Eastern Mediterranean around the Italian island of Lampedusa as aggravating factors for the influx.

“All these indicators, together with the fact that at this time of year, the sea is very calm, have caused what we knew was going to happen, especially when the European Union’s controls are being reinforced in the upper part of the Mediterranean,” Clavijo told Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

While the islands’ officials are unimpressed with the Spanish government’s inaction to relieve the burden, conservatives on mainland Spain are berating the governing socialists and Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, in particular, for doing too much.

“Marlaska transfers 600 illegal immigrants from Tenerife to Madrid on commercial flights in 48 hours to leave them on the street. While a level 5 terrorist alert is declared in France, the Government is transferring hundreds of African immigrants of military age to our cities who do not know where they are from or what they are,” the right-wing populist Vox party wrote on X.

“They are putting everyone’s safety at risk,” it added.

The Spanish islands are currently on course to receive a record number of illegal migrants in a single year, surpassing 2006 when almost 32,000 new arrivals were recorded.

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