A lot of people try to get into the EU by going to one of three locations which are in or close to Africa, Lampedusa, Ceuta and Melilla. Quite horrific images are the result of this.

The part I don't understand is why these locations are so crucial. Technically they are part of the EU, but they are also remote. People would still need to cross the Mediterranean Sea to get to locations with more job opportunities.

I assume since the crossing is done without papers, just taking the ferry to the mainland is not an option. Still getting to these areas must be sensible given the constant number of people trying to get there.

  • Geography? I am not sure it's really a practical question fit for SE but where would you go otherwise?
    – Gala
    Mar 21, 2014 at 9:50
  • Is this really on-topic? If anywhere at all, I would see this rather in travel.se...
    – uncovery
    Mar 21, 2014 at 10:57
  • 2
    @uncovery when immigration type question are asked in travel.se people were always referred committing to expat.se. Immigration question are a big nono on travel.se
    – Andra
    Mar 21, 2014 at 11:09
  • 3
    Not sure if it's an expat question. Might belong on politics. It's certainly not a travel question.
    – gerrit
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:01
  • per: meta.expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/81/… this question is off-topic.
    – vartec
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


Landing in the mainland wouldn't change the fact that you're still an illegal immigrant, and you have no legal job opportunities, only illegal jobs. Working illegally means if you are not paid, you have practically no possibility to protect yourself. Of course, you can hide (how long?) and count on luck.

Getting to the mainland is very hard. As you see on maps, Lampedusa is significantly nearer to the African coast than the mainland. The travel in poor-quality ships is dangerous enough to that point.

Landing on the territory of any EU state, even if it's only a remote island, gives you the rights to apply for a refugee status, and the right to legally work in Europe if that status is approved.

The only special thing in those areas is that they are much easier to get to.

  • 3
    +1 I think that's the main reason. A small detail: Applying for asylum/subsidiary protection does not give you the right to work everywhere in Europe. I think it depends on national law but sometimes you get some financial or material help but no right to work (until your application has been processed), sometimes you have the right to work but no help and in any case, only for the state you applied first.
    – Gala
    Mar 21, 2014 at 11:15
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    @GaëlLaurans applying not, but when you have refugee status, it's in interest of every state to allow you to work. I'm not sure, however, if that is regulated by EU law or by every state on its own.
    – user41
    Mar 21, 2014 at 11:18
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    "illegal immigrant [...] no legal job opportunities", that was not the case in Spain, where anyone could register with social-security and tax office regardless of their immigration status. Legal work contract would only require tax-payer's ID and social-security ID.
    – vartec
    Mar 21, 2014 at 11:43

Cueta and Mellila are Spanish territory and Spain had history of very soft approach with illegal immigrants. Unlike in other countries, where illegal immigrants are often frowned upon by authorities and their lives are much more regulated, in Spain they would be mostly left alone.

At one point socialist government even invited all illegal immigrants to come forward and legalize their status. In total they have "legalized" 700,000 people. It would be enough for illegal immigrant to work legally and pay taxes for 2 years to have a right to legalize his stay. And yes, it was possible for illegal immigrant to work fully legally, as employers were not required to check peoples immigration status. Nor would it be checked by tax offices or social-security offices.

This is changing however, because current government is right-wing and always had anti-immigration rhetoric. Besides that in 2009 EU has passed directive, that requires that hiring illegals would be a criminal act, punishable by fine and/or prison.

  • 2
    Folks, I've nuked a flame here in the comments. If you have some improvement to suggest to this answer do so. Posting "I don't like this" comments is not helping neither the site nor the community.
    – Sklivvz
    Mar 21, 2014 at 19:12

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