SOME PEOPLE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR AN ANSWER SINCE JUNE 2001

MIQUEL Ramis, the central government representative, yesterday promised to resolve the situation of 20'000 immigrants who are trying to regulate their residence and labour situation within six months. He was speaking to representatives of the Farmers' Union who called for a faster system of processing the paperwork for immigrants so that they could plan their campaigns. Delays are currently in the region of 18 to 24 months, and in some cases, immigrants have been waiting for a decision since June 2001. The Farmers' Union was represented by its general secretary Pere Calafat, Joan Mas and Bel Vicens who explained the problems these delays caused the farming sector, as it made it impossible for them to issue contracts, plan and adjust the number of immigrant workers to the needs of the season. They also discussed the possibility of treating requests for residence permits sector by sector. Mas said that because of the delays, the farmers had to guess a year in advance how many workers they would need for short seasons, such as the grape or almond crop, which only lasted one or two months. He said that the farmers did not know what needs they would have in a year's time, and the immigrants weren't interested in accepting contracts so far in advance. Ramis and the farmers also discussed plans to expand Son Sant Joan airport which, if carried out, will affect nearly 200 hectares of farmland, most of it used to grow alfalfa for animal feed. The farmers said it was contradictory for the central government to spend huge sums of money on building a sewage farm in Sant Jordi and plan to use the water from it to irrigate farm land while at the same time drawing up plans for the airport which would reduce the amount of farm land in the area. The Farmers' Union representatives later praised Ramis for his “positive and cordial attitude.”

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