Ceuta barely receives Moroccan cross-border workers due to new requirements and closing the way for those who lack ‘papers’


With the opening of the agreed border between Spain and Morocco, 150 workers were expected to arrive a day with a special visa, which prevents them from spending the night in the city.

One of the border crossings between Ceuta and Morocco, without any
One of the border crossings between Ceuta and Morocco, with no traffic.Antonio Sempier

From 00:00 on 31 May, the second phase of the opening of the border in Ceuta is underway, a “gradual and systematic” opening, agreed by Spain and Morocco. About 150 cross-border workers were expected to be able to reach Ceuta with special visas that enable them to enter. Before the unilateral closure of the Moroccan-sponsored border in March 2020, Tetun had about 2,000 Moroccans with valid cross-border permits. Most of them are women who serve in households as domestic workers or caretakers of dependent persons and children.

Once the border has been opened to cross-transit, the Spanish government, through the Secretary of State for Migration, issued a directive so that those who had lost their jobs could renew their permits. This regulation allows you not to start over with a new application for hiring a person from Morocco.

In today’s situation, about 150 people can move to Ceuta to work. Either because they already have a Foreign Identity Card (TIE) or because they have a special visa to be able to issue a TIE card that allows them to travel to Ceuta. The special visa allows them to stay in Ceuta for only one day, and is designed for these people to issue their foreign identity card to the immigration office.

New terms agreed by both countries to govern the border system will no longer allow people coming to Ceuta to work without a contract, simply with a passport from Tetun province, to re-enter the city.

This new situation has caused uneasiness among many who share family ties with Ceuta’s residents and who cannot cross the autonomous city to visit their relatives or visit the city. This resulted in the end of the exception to the Schengen Treaty, a condition demanded by the regional government headed by Juan Vivas.

Permits for cross-border workers are regulated in the Foreigners Act and its rules. This type of permit does not give access to unemployment benefits, its pensions being much lower than those quoted in Spain. In addition, they have to pay 25% personal income tax for non-residents. On the other hand, it is no less true that the salary they receive (based on SMI) is much higher than on the other side of the range (they earn the same as a Moroccan professional with a university degree).

Undocumented people living in Ceuta, stranded not because of being pimps, but because they preferred to keep their jobs to support their families, now must return to Morocco to regularize their documentation and permits.

This Tuesday is the 31st when the second phase of “staggered” openings carried out by the Moroccan and Spanish governments has been instituted, with permission that no person has crossed the border into the autonomous city. Many people who cross first thing in the morning do so for other purposes, from medical visits to banking procedures or just to be able to catch a ferry on their way to the peninsula.

The requirements demanded in this second phase of reopening have thrown almost all cross-border workers out of the game.

The border unit of the National Police was ready to receive workers across the border. Says an agent, “They asked us to come soon, that they will start arriving at 7 o’clock and no one has passed so far.”

On the other hand, hundreds of people, without their documents, tried to reach Moroccan border facilities, but were forced to turn by the police and they remained concentrated at the intersection of the Ibis Hotel in the neighboring city of Funidek (Castillage). In the vicinity of Bab Septa Pass.

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