Thu. 8:33 a.m.: Spain takes more African migrants despite signs of tension

ALGECIRAS, Spain (AP) — A rescue boat carrying 87 African migrants who were saved in the Mediterranean Sea docked today at the southern Spanish port of Algeciras, but without the welcome offered to previous groups as the political mood in Spain began showing signs of tension about a spike in migrant arrivals.

The boat operated by Spanish aid group Proactiva Open Arms brought what it said were mostly Sudanese war refugees, including 12 minors, picked up off the Libyan coast on Aug. 2.

Spain allowed the boat to come after other, geographically closer, European Union countries refused to let it dock amid continuing tension among EU governments about how best to respond to the wave of migrants crossing from Africa.

Spain’s new center-left Socialist government made fair treatment for migrants one of its headline policies after coming to power two months ago.

In June, it announced measures to “put people’s rights first” in the country’s migration policies. Among other things, it took the first steps toward extending public health care to foreigners without residence permits.

That same month, it accepted the Aquarius rescue ship with 630 migrants on board after Malta and Italy turned it away.

Authorities gave those migrants who arrived in Valencia a special entry permit into Spain of 45 days for humanitarian reasons. A further 60 who arrived on a rescue ship in Barcelona last month were given a 30-day permit while they decided what to do. Their paperwork was also fast-tracked.

But those who arrived in Algeciras today will get no such special treatment.

They will be processed, the government said, like any other migrants rescued at sea: held by police for 72 hours at a migrant camp, given a medical check-up, identified and detained while they await asylum or are given an expulsion order.

The government official overseeing immigration, Magdalena Valerio, said earlier this week there would be no extra money for migrant policies before the end of the year.

The Spanish Network for Immigration and Refugee Help, a non-governmental organization, accused the government of abruptly “changing course” in its immigration policies and “discriminating” against the new arrivals.

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