The ringing of a bell told engineer Fernando Reyes that he had to attend to his work.
It was not a call to go to a construction site, far from it: at that time, in November 2022, it was the signal used by an elderly couple, aged 84 and 83, to notify them that they required help to go to the bathroom, that they wanted a glass of water or whatever they needed at that moment.
“I couldn't get advice before to see if I could work in something else, but while in Spain they told me that if I didn't have papers in order, I couldn't work.
I knew it was my responsibility, but I heard that little bell and it made me angry.
I got up every day to bathe them, wash their clothes, iron them, clean them at night and then I had the same day.
My hair was falling out from stress,” recalls Reyes, a Honduran civil engineer who,
54% of migrants living in Spain perform manual and low-skill jobs, such as waiters, domestic workers or farm laborers.
And this data, collected in the report
Un arraigo sobre el alambre
, prepared by Cáritas and the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, cannot be explained by a gap in the level of studies between natives and foreigners.
The migrant population in Spain, contrary to the stereotype, has educational levels similar to those of the Spanish population, according to the study;
but there are barriers, from the obstacles to homologate the titles to the discrimination in the labor market, which hinder the professional projection of those who settle in Spain.
Yasmine Chacón and Juan José Hernández, a couple of Salvadoran radiologists who left their country persecuted by the gang that dominated their area, have not been able to practice their profession since they arrived in Spain in 2018. Overnight they went from working in a hospital to clean houses and lift boxes.
In 2020 they presented their degrees to be recognized and be able to work as radiologists, but the approval has taken three years to arrive.
During this time, Chacón has worked as a maid and Hernández, who is now unemployed, as a warehouse boy, forklift driver and tugboat driver.
The degree that they have been certified, even so, is not the equivalent of the six years they studied at the University of El Salvador, but rather a lower level one: that of radiodiagnostic technician, that is, a three-year degree.
“We had already resigned ourselves to the fact that they were not going to approve us.
If they didn't do it during the pandemic, when they needed health personnel, even less at this point.
That is why we said that this was better than nothing”, Chacón resignedly recounted.
The report on labor integration of the foreign population, from the Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia, indicates that there are 12% of foreign workers with higher education employed in elementary occupations (agriculture, construction and cleaning, among others), compared to 1.8 % of Spaniards.
This is the situation of Josselyn Zúñiga, 28, a native of Comayagua (Honduras) and a primary school teacher.
When she arrived in Spain, in November 2018, she managed to work up to ten hours a day as an intern, attending to the needs of a family, and, although she currently works the legal eight hours in a new house, she has not achieved the homologation of her title .
“I am not practicing my profession because I am not allowed to.
They told me to be patient, that they would let me know.
Hope is the only thing, everything will come in due time, ”she maintains.
A bottleneck of 40,000 records
The problems in Spain for the homologation of titles became entrenched, and the waits to be able to exercise stretched for years.
A law was passed last November to streamline the process and reduce waiting times.
That rule determined that petitions should be resolved in a maximum of two months.
There are 37 professions that need approval, among which are lawyers, architects, doctors, early childhood education teachers or dentists.
Approved the law, the next problem has been the jam of almost 40,000 titles pending approval;
nine out of ten, from Latin America.
The civil engineer Fernando Reyes decided not to have his degree recognized because he needed the help of a manager who charged him 700 euros, which he could not pay.
After working as an intern, he did it in a real estate agency for nine months —he was paid in black money— and he returned to Honduras on November 23, 2022 for family reasons.
For their part, radiologists Yasmine Chacón and Juan José Hernández, who live in Benifayó, Valencia, say they will return to study in Spain to add courses to their curriculum or acquire new qualifications and thus be able to practice their profession.
“We put the well-being of our daughters above all else.
When you think about that well-being, that they don't normalize the violence in a country, not practicing your career is nothing”, concludes Chacón.
This report has been published as part of the project "re:framing Migrants in European Media", supported by the European Commission.
The project is coordinated by the European Cultural Foundation.
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