Spain: guide about legal questions
If you are arrested for not having papers, usually you will get a fine. Deportation is reserved for the most serious cases. You will always have the right to a legal appeal against the decision to deport you. This must be done within two months of the decision to deport you and you should do it, in any case, with the help of your lawyer.
Even if you received your deportation order a long time ago, it might still be valid. During the time you have a valid deportation order the police can come at any moment to arrest and deport you.
Even though the usual way to arrest you is at a control in the street or on public transportation, they can also come to your house or send you an order to come to the police station (“for a personal matter or your papers”). In the last case, you should inform somebody you trust that you are going to the police station. Tell her/him that if you are not back in one or two hours that you might have been arrested.
There is a special procedure called “expulsión express” (express deportation). If yours is an express deportation you might only be in the police station for a few hours before they deport you. It is important that your lawyer has the tools to defend you, therefore you should have all your documentation with somebody you trust (see the Detention chapter).
If they try to deport you directly from the police station, they have to do it within 72 hours, if not they have to send you to court to approve your detention in the CIE or let you go free.
Remember: In Spain the term “Expulsión” is used to officially refer to deportation.
Detention Centers (CIEs)
The CIES are detention centers where they keep people without papers to finish the deportation procedure. The maximum time you can be kept in a CIE is 60 days. If they have not deported you within this time they have to set you free and cannot arrest you again. There are many reasons that can prevent your deportation during these 60 days.
► You don’t have a passport and your country doesn’t accept people without papers.
► Asking for asylum. You can apply for asylum any time in the CIE. Talk to your lawyer to ask when to apply.
► During the first 48 hours your lawyer presents documents that stop/postpone your deportation.
► You are suffering from a recognised disease/handicap (physical or mental) that prevents your deportation.
It is very important that people close to you and your lawyer are informed that you are in the CIE from the first moment, so they are able to support you. If you don’t have a lawyer, you have the right to get a lawyer for free to defend you.
Your family can visit you in the CIE and you have access to a public phone (you will need cash for that). You should find out about the support organisations in the CIE, who can help you to protect your rights. There are several organisations all over Spain who are fighting a campaign against the CIEs (APDHA, SOS Racismo, CIEs NO, SJME and others). If you think you, or a friend of yours might be sent to a CIE you can contact them to get information and support. You can also join the struggle.
REMEMBER: It is illegal to keep you in a CIE for more than 60 days during your whole stay in Spain. This means that if you get arrested one time for 40 days, the next time they can keep you in a CIE for no more than 20 days. This doesn’t mean that the authorities won’t try to keep you longer. Fight for your rights!