Spain: Clandestine railway - A guide for the freedom of movement

last update in 2007

Over a century ago hundreds, even thousands, of black men and women who lived under the slave regime of the southern states of the United States of America undertook an uncertain journey to the north, to Canada, far from the plantation economy and its slave system to their freedom. Hundreds of black and white men and women organised to help in this journey, creating what became known as ’the Underground Railroad’.

Today, the land of freedom which Canada then represented for those men and women no longer exists; nevertheless thousands of men and women undertake an even more uncertain journey to the North, some leaving behind forms of oppression and exploitation, some simply in search of a dream or a better life. Dozens of men and women want to support them in their journey, to which we all have a right: this guide is one way to offer that support.

In this guide you will find information to help you get to know and get around various cities in the Spanish State (Seville, Málaga, Madrid and Barcelona), a list of resources for basic necessities (for those who arrive without anything) and the legal information needed to get residency documents and with them the recognition of certain rights.

Here you find the guide:

- in english: Clandestine railway - A guide for the freedom of movement

- in spanish: Ferrocarril Clandestino - Guía por la libertad de movimiento

- in french: Chemin de fer clandestin. Guide pour la liberté de mouvement


Useful terms

I. About this guide

II. Documents, documents...

1. Practical advice (if you don’t have your residency documents yet...)
a. On the street...
b. If they detain you for not having residency documents...
c. With children...
d. Public transport...
e. In the airport…
f. If you are attacked by a police officer or you witness police aggression…
g. If you want to open a bank account and you still don’t have residency documents

2. Empadronamiento

3. Medical Card

4. Social Services

5. Residency
a. Roots in Spain (Arraigo)
b. For humanitarian reasons
c. Marrying a citizen of a European Union country
d. Entering an exceptional process of regularisation (proceso de regularizacíon extraordinario)
e. Through a job offer
f. For studies
g. For family regrouping

6. Authorisations
a. Authorisation to work
b. Authorisation of return

7. Asylum and refuge

8. Detention centres, deportations and return
a. Detention Centres (Centros de Internamiento)
b. Deportations
c. Return

9. Work
a. Looking for work
b. Claims for unpaid wages

III. Memory of struggles for the rights of immigrants
1. The Experience of the ‘Noveno Colectivo’ of undocumented immigrants
2. Strike against racism in El Ejido (Almería, Spain, 2000)
3. Wave of lock-ins in the Spanish State (2001)

IV. Resource guide for recent arrivals

   1. Málaga
   2. Sevilla
   3. Madrid
   4. Barcelona

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