The current figure represents a 6.3% increase from the previous year.
Approximately 262,058 Moroccans in Spain were affiliated with the country’s social program at the end of 2020, say statistics from the Spanish Ministry of Integration, Social Security, and Migration.
The ministry’s recent data, published on Thursday, shows that Moroccans remain the largest diaspora of foreign workers from outside the European Union in Spain, followed by the Chinese community which counts 98,717 immigrants.
Some 1,331,206 foreign workers affiliated with Spain’s social security system come from outside the European Union and 747,430 come from European Union countries.
According to the latest figures from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), the number of Moroccan immigrants who legally reside in Spain amounted to 864,500 in 2019, representing approximately 1.56% of the total population.
The statistics register an increase of 6.3% from a year earlier when the number of Moroccan immigrants reached 50,959.
Moroccan immigration constitutes a central labor force for Spain’s economy. Between January to July 2020, Spain issued 9,189 work permits to Moroccans.
Seasonal workers continue to travel from Morocco to Spain on a yearly basis to work in the European country’s industrial, agricultural, and service sectors. Morocco and Spain signed an agreement in 2001 granting seasonal workers temporary visas to harvest fruit in Spain.
Moroccan women constitute the largest demographic for fruit harvest labor in Spain.
In 2019 alone, the Moroccan government sent 20,000 women as seasonal workers to Spain to pick strawberries and red fruits.
Women who work in Spanish fields bear the brunt of often precarious and exploitative work contracts. In 2018, a group of female seasonal workers in Huelva filed complaints highlighting exploitative work conditions and sexual abuse by their supervisors.
The women sounded the alarm on precarious conditions including housing without water or electricity, working long hours without pay, and having limited access to medical care. Other complaints have followed.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Moroccan-Spanish border closed and the seasonal workers found themselves stranded in Spain after the harvesting season ended in May. More than 7,000 Moroccan women found themselves abandoned in the southern province of Huelva with little or no money.
In July, the stranded workers staged a demonstration and called on the Moroccan government to repatriate them back to their families. Following the public appeal, Moroccan authorities repatriated 1,200 Moroccan seasonal workers.