Spain defends pushback policy adopted on Thursday

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The Spanish Interior Ministry has defended its pushback policy on display on Thursday morning, when over 700 African migrants stormed the fence separating Morocco from Spain’s north African enclave of Ceuta.

“The Civil Guard is enforcing existing legislation,” said ministry sources about the fact that some of these migrants were immediately sent back to Morocco. The Socialist government led by Pedro Sánchez had recently said it would reconsider the controversial practice of returning migrants on the spot, but the Interior Ministry now says that “there will be no legislative change outside European agreements on immigration.”

A group of over 700 undocumented migrants made a coordinated jump over the border fence separating Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Thursday morning, according to Civil Guard figures. The government delegate in Ceuta said that 602 of them made it through to Spanish territory.

Migrants used homemade blow torches, quicklime, sticks and sharp objects against the police, in what has been described as one of the largest and most violent border crossings in recent years.

Speaking on the SER radio network on Thursday evening, Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said that the migrants who were sent back to Morocco had not technically reached Spanish soil yet. His department is backing the Civil Guard’s actions on Thursday, saying officers “have to comply with the law.”

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