I belong to the Agadir region of Morocco, where my father works in poultry. I was only 15 when I chose to leave Morocco in search of a better and more fascinating life in Spain. Everyone in Morocco wants to go to Europe because of the job opportunities here. Back there, no one wants to be. So, I left home alone without informing anyone.

I arrived in Spain with a group of other migrants by crossing the Strait of Tarifa on a boat from Tangier. I was placed in a youth centre for minors when I arrived. Being in the centre was helpful in that it allowed me to improve my Spanish language speaking skills. After almost two years, I finally called my mother. I discovered that she was sick and required surgery. I lacked the money to send back home, so I escaped the centre and made my way to Norway.

In Norway, I was apprehended by the authorities and taken to another centre, from which I managed to flee once more. Following that, I moved to France, where I resided for almost five years. I’ve managed to survive all these years by working in different restaurants as well as other places I prefer not to talk about.

In 2010, I went to Lanzarote in the Canaries islands of Spain, where I got a fake contract made and obtained my Tarjeta de Trabajar (work permit). I could then go to Morocco to see my mother. It was an emotional moment for us. I was 24, and I met her after almost a decade. After that, I returned to France and began working. I’m currently in Spain to get an authorised work permit that’ll eventually help me apply for citizenship. If I don’t get it, then I will go back to France.

So far, my experience in Spain has been positive. I have never been discriminated against either because of my ethnicity or faith except for the one time that the authorities attempted to deport me from Spain. However, it’s tough to say because this may not be the case for everyone. So much has changed in Spain. They treat you in a worse manner if you are an Arab. I can speak both French and Spanish, so people don’t often judge me.

Personally, I don’t see any difference between Moroccans and Spaniards. They are all the same to me, and I feel attached to both societies to a considerable extent. The Spanish, in my opinion, are quite tolerant of other cultures. I try to incorporate significant aspects of both cultures into my life. I have a lot of Spanish pals with whom I hang out. They even come to my home on a regular basis. In my neighbourhood, Raval, besides Moroccans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and even Catalans live here. I am not a religious person, but I have equal respect for all religions. I live with five other people, two of whom are Pakistanis. I feel connected to everyone. I don’t feel like I belong somewhere in particular.

As yet, none from my family has married anyone other than Moroccan. But I wouldn’t mind marrying someone from another community or religion. I have a girlfriend in France, and we want to marry one day. I don’t wish to go back to Morocco. Life is tough but certainly better than living in Morocco. If I could, I would bring my mother here someday.

Ilias’ (alias) life journey as an undocumented immigrant who arrived in Spain as an unaccompanied minor exemplifies the precarious living of irregular migrants in Europe. The narration is drawn from the semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted by the author in Barcelona as part of the PhD fieldwork with support of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Erasmus+ Mobility. The study investigated the social, economic, political and cultural factors that impact the integration process of Moroccan immigrants in Spain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like