The outbreak of Covid-19 caused international mobility to plummet in 2020. Even so, the SAIER, the municipal service specialising in support for migrants and asylum seekers, saw no change in its volume of users and provided support for 19,001 people. The figures is very slightly below the figures for 2019, when the service attended to 20,620 people, but 42% higher than the figure from five years ago. In all, the service acted in 66,083 instances.
Nonetheless, resources for SAIER services have been increased. Notable steps include the opening of a new municipal centre (C/ Tarragona 173), an additional 30% in funding and an average provision of accommodation for 180 people a month, some 4,800 overnight stays.
The additional resources respond to the support needs of city residents of migrant origin, one of the groups hit hardest by the socio-economic crisis caused by the pandemic. On top of the consequences of the crisis, restrictive legislation on foreigners makes the regularisation of these residents difficult, affecting their rights and access to social services and pushing them into the casual or subsistence economy.
More specific support and more appointments
Since the appearance of the pandemic, the Care Service for Immigrants, Emigrants and Refugees (SAIER) has adapted its support to cover health needs and demands, at the same time establishing an appointment system for most types of assistance. This prompted a 42% increase in the number of first appointments, conducted online or by phone. Support without an appointment has been maintained for emergencies.
A notable aspect in the figures for 2020 is the increase in highly specific assistance, such as help with procedures relating to foreigner status, which rose from 8.3% to 11.7%. Similarly, increases are reflected in the figures for legal advice on international protection (from 5.1% to 6.7%), advice on foreigner status (from 3.7% to 4.6%), procedures for the validation and recognition of studies, and job-search training (from 3.1% to 4%).
80% of users in irregular administrative situations
The law on foreigners makes the regulation of newly arrived people difficult. Because of this, 80% of users assisted by the SAIER are in irregular situations. Migrants and asylum seekers account for the bulk of users (53.5% and 44% respectively). This is the first time in recent years that the upward trend is the number of people seeking international protection has been interrupted.
In terms of countries of origin, most SAIER users come from America, with Colombia the main country (3,658 people), followed by Venezuela (2,460), Honduras (1,970) and Peru (1,845).