The Council of Ministers approved this Tuesday the granting of a two-year residence and work authorization (extendable to two more) to all those young migrants between 18 and 21 years of age who are extraordinarily incorporated into agricultural work. The measure will benefit dozens of young foreigners who, arriving in Spain when they were still minors, have obtained – in most cases – their first employment contract thanks to the royal decree of April 7 with which they sought to recruit hand work in the field before the border restrictions imposed by the covid-19. “It is necessary to arbitrate a way that allows these young people to maintain their right to work, after the end of the validity of the royal decree-law of the agrarian sector,” the text reports.
The royal decree of April 7, promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture, allowed the hiring of unemployed workers who receive benefits for agricultural work, granted extensions to foreign temporary workers who had their contract terminated, and, finally, granted work permits to all those young immigrants in a regular situation who, despite having residence permits, were unable to work. The measure has allowed dozens of kids to be incorporated into crops throughout Spain – which could be hundreds in the absence of official data – but, until today, it had not been specified whether those work permits would be extended or for how long.
The granting of a two-year work authorization, without sector or territory limitations, is a boost for the full incorporation of young people into the labor market, a claim by dozens of NGOs that have worked for their inclusion since they arrived in Spain as minors old. “These young people are contributing, with their work, to the maintenance of an essential sector during the crisis. In addition, based on this royal decree-law, many of them are having a first job opportunity that contributes, in a key way, to the inclusion of these young people, ”states the text of the decree approved this Tuesday.
It is not yet known exactly how many of these boys have been hired in the agricultural campaigns. The only official data provided by the Ministry of Migration reveals that 450 foreigners have signed a contract thanks to the royal decree, but this number also includes seasonal workers who have extended their work authorizations to continue harvesting.
Half a dozen young people hired in the fields of Huelva and Tarragona have told EL PAÍS how their first job in the field was a first step to working legally and more permanently. “It is an opportunity, it is the first time that I can earn a salary that is not black,” explained Emeka, a 19-year-old Nigerian man who gathers red berries in Almonte (Huelva). “This is not my place, but it is what it touches. Spain has helped me a lot and if my work contributes to raising the country, it makes me feel good, ”said Mouad Lmadani, an 18-year-old Moroccan who hopes, after passing through a vineyard field in Tarragona, to be able to work as a cook or mediator . “We applaud that the boys who have started with their first job placement in the field can later work in other sectors that better suit their profiles and expectations,” celebrates Ilene Glasser, the head of job placement in Catalonia at the Diagrama Foundation.
This is the second initiative of the Secretary of State for Migration to make access to the job market more flexible for young immigrants. In early March, the department instructed that foreign minors automatically have not only their legal residence authorization, but also a work authorization starting at age 16. The measure sought that foreign minors supervised by the autonomous communities have the same rights as any young person of their age without having to face the demands and bureaucratic obstacles that hindered the granting of their work permits.
On the other hand, the Council of Ministers has approved that the extraordinary measures of the royal decree, whose objective was to facilitate the hiring of up to 80,000 new workers, be extended from June 30 to September 30. The expansion means giving three more months to continue hiring the unemployed and immigrants as seasonal workers to ensure “the sufficiency of adequate manpower to attend to summer agricultural tasks, as an essential part of the food chain.”