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Witness
Clandestine Crisis
A look at Bolivian immigrants in Europe and the mechanics of expulsion.
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2009 11:52 GMT

Watch part two

In the boom years, Europe was a magnet for immigrants from around the world. But once the economy went into free fall, many companies stopped hiring.

Now there are not enough jobs and too many immigrants, many of them illegal and without papers.

Nowhere is this situation bleaker than amongst Bolivians in Spain. Of the 350,000 who came to work in construction and as domestic help, an estimated 80 per cent have no papers.

They are part of an exodus of three million Bolivians escaping economic crisis at home, whose money sent back to families now accounts for 12 per cent of the Bolivian economy.

In June 2008, the situation got worse for illegal immigrants, when the EU passed a directive making it easier to expell them. EU countries can now keep immigrants, including children, for up to 18 month in detention centres before they are deported.

In Spain, many Bolivians have already been arrested and held in overcrowded conditions awaiting deportation, but despite the often enormous emotional cost, Bolivians don't give easily up the dream of making enough money in Europe to build a house or educate their children.

Clandestine Crisis is the story of three Bolivian women caught between collapsing economies on two different continents, and the all but invisible crisis facing millions of immigrants without papers following what many now call the "law of shame".

Source:
Al Jazeera
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