This is not intended to be alarmist, and it’s not a case for worry, but it’s something all Tenerife residents should be aware of.
Europa Press has come into possession of a confidential internal circular from the “Dirección General de Policía y Guardia Civil” which is “for the view of immigration and frontier units of the National Police only”. The circular orders that in a documentation check, any foreigners who cannot demonstrate that they reside in Spain legally are taken to a police station, and that expulsion procedures are initiated as quickly as possible.
The circular, signed 25 January by the Comisario General de Extranjería y Fronteras, Juan Enrique Taborda, is said to be highly confidential, and each of its 29 pages carries the following words: “Documento de uso restringido para unidades de Extranjería y Fronteras del Cuerpo Nacional de Policía. Prohibida su reproducción, difusión o publicación o utilización por personal ajeno a estas unidades”. (Document of restricted use for immigration and frontier units of the National Police. Its reproduction, reporting, publication or use by personnel other than of these units is prohibited).
It’s being reported as an attempt to follow up pretty controversial legal aims of dealing with illegal immigration, particularly measures contained in a new immigration law which was passed in December. Where it could touch on resident British expats, however, is the reference in the text to another earlier law, that of the Protection of Citizen Security, passed in 1992, and according to which all foreigners in Spain are “required to prove that they are here legally”. According to the circular, this law allows police to take foreigners into custody if they cannot do this. They can be held for up to 72 hours while police checks are carried out. Expulsion procedures can be initiated during this time.
The circular has been sent to all Comisiarías in Spain, which means those in Tenerife have received one too. I very much doubt that any European would be subject to this, and it is very clearly aimed as “los sin papeles”, which is how the illegal and usually African immigrants are known, but in some cases, particularly if embroiled in any trouble, it’s not completely inconceivable that any one of us could be held until we could prove we had legal paperwork here. And of course, we don’t want to be in the situation of being unable to so prove it.