Unaccompanied minors do not spend 4,700 euros a month, as Vox says

The official data dismantle the xenophobic story of Abascal's ultras

3 min
The candidate for the presidency of Madrid, Rocio Monasterio, with the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal, at a meeting in Fuenlabrada

BarcelonaVox has done it again: it has used immigrants for its populist discourse and has attracted the media spotlight at the start of the election campaign in Madrid. On this occasion, the far-right party has perpetrated a poster in which it contrasts an adorable white-haired woman with a supposed immigrant minor with her face covered, accompanied by the slogan "A mena [acronym for Menor Extranjero No Acompañado, unaccompanied foreign minor], 4,700 euros a month. Your grandmother, 426 euros a month pension". These are two simple sentences - but they are a lie.

Do unaccompanied minors receive 4,700 euros a month?

No. Foreign minors who arrive alone and are looked after by the administration receive the same treatment as native minors in the same situation. The protection system cares for them until they turn 18, either by providing for their maintenance and education, in the case of those living in specialised centres, or by financially supporting temporary foster families. According to the Community of Madrid, 70% of the 3,709 minors under guardianship have Spanish nationality and, of the foreigners, only 7.2% are minors without any adult reference.

The Madrid protection system has 98 residential centres with 1,903 spots and receives 96.1 million euros from the public budget. This means that each of the spots available for minors would cost 4,208 euros per month if divided between the 12 months of the year, a figure that is close to the 4,700 of the propaganda poster of the ultras, but from the Ministry of Social Affairs stress that "this figure cannot be interpreted as the amount that the Community allocates each month" to unaccompanied foreign minors.

Do they get paid when they come of age?

The protection system establishes a financial protection benefit that varies according to the community to help them to emancipate themselves. In these cases, no difference is made on the basis of the children's passport. For example, Catalonia has approved a benefit of 664 euros a month that can be received until the age of 23, as long as the beneficiary follows non-compulsory formal education. The problem faced by foreign children is that almost half of them leave the reception centre without a valid residence permit, so they are denied access to benefits, such as unemployment or the minimum living income, the star measure that the Spanish government has put in place to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, and they cannot work legally either. In fact, the Red Cross estimates that 10% of these young people live on the streets and 84% survive in poverty.

What is the retirement pension?

According to the National Institute of Social Security, most retirees receive just over a thousand euros a month. In fact, the average retirement pension in Spain stood at 1,182.07 euros, but in the case of women the figure drops to 728.66 euros. In the Community of Madrid, the average is even higher and reaches 1,380.90, the third highest figure after the Basque Country and Asturias. But the candidacy of Rocío Monasterio could be referring to minimum pensions or directly to non-contributory pensions. Minimum pensions, without a dependent spouse, are around 650 euros and require a minimum of fifteen years of contributions. Women who have not reached this level may be receiving non-contributory pensions below this figure, so it would be possible to find a case of 426 euros per month, if she did not supplement it with a widow's or widower's pension.

The figure of 426 euros, however, is surprising because it coincides exactly with the amount of support received by people over 55 who have exhausted their unemployment benefit and meet a series of additional requirements. They can receive it until they reach retirement age.

Do immigrants contribute more than they spend?

Yes, immigration is a group that contributes more to the public coffers than the money spent on them. A study by the UPF indicates that the 600,000 people who were able to regularise their situation in 2004 paid between 4,000 and 5,000 euros to the Treasury, which added up to an injection of 2,400 million euros in total. According to the Foundation for Applied Economics Studies (Fedea), by leaving the 600,000 foreigners in an irregular situation, 1.75 billion euros are lost annually, but today the Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez has no agenda for this measure. Without legal residence authorization, none of the immigrants have access to an official economic benefit, nor to a social rent.