Legal Services for Asylum Seekers

Background

ACSAR continues the Agermanament program, which since 1973 helped to welcome exiles from Latin America. In 1977, this program was transformed, with the support of a group of senators known as the Entesa dels Catalans, into the Defense Commission for Political Refugees. During the late 70´s when military dictatorships were brutalizing Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, many people who had been persecuted needed not only help for themselves, but also help to form solidarity committees. In Catalonia, we undertook at once the preparation to become politically democratic ourselves, and also to stand in solidarity with those who were being persecuted for such ideas. These Latin American political refugees arrived while Spain was building a democratic system after 40 years of dictatorship under Franco´s regime, and thus there was no asylum nor immigration laws in existence. (These laws were approved in 1984 and 1985 respectively).

ACSAR, The Catalan Association for Solidarity and Assistance of Refugees, was founded on November 20, 1980 in Barcelona. ACSAR proceeded to create the Legal Counseling Services, with the objective of helping exiles to solicit political asylum in Catalunya. The Association tried to maximize the success of the petitions and accompanied their clients to their interviews with politicians. In 1989, in collaboration with the Red Cross, they formed SAIER, Barcelona´s municipal Ministry of Services for Immigrants, Foreigners, and Refugees. Since then, ACSAR has managed the asylum petitions at SAIER, and more than 6,000 persons of 120 different nationalities have been attended to by the ACSAR Association´s legal council.

In 2013 the ACSAR Foundation took over this line of work from the Association, and we continue to offer the specialized services of the legal council to asylum petitioners. The asylum petitions we receive are no longer confined to those subjected to political persecution; we now see an expanded range of asylum seekers who have suffered persecution for reasons of ethnicity, religion, nationality, membership in a specific social group, gender, and sexual orientation.

ACSAR´s Legal Counseling

The principal goals of the Legal Counseling Services of ACSAR are to help to orient and to offer assistance and legal guidance to asylum seekers. The legal guidance focuses on international protection, with attention to the right to asylum, as well as the protection of refugees and potential refugees in the Barcelona area. We also assume the cases of some aliens, especially those that are tied to humanitarian motives or have similarities with asylum and refugee status. When necessary, we also assist refugees with questions of nationality, marriage, the extension of asylum, and family reunification.

What is SAIER?

SAIER is a municipal ministry that offers a bundle of services to refugees and foreigners, which are delivered by different entities. The delivery agents coordinate their work following a model of integrated service that is a pioneering system in Europe and is considered an example of a best practice in the field.

The services cater towards those who have recently arrived, who have needs directly related to their arrival processes: guidance for asylum seekers, legal counseling, social and workplace integration programs, linguistic and cultural support. In 2013 SAIER began providing additional information services for returnees and emigrants.

The entities that make up SAIER, in addition to ACSAR, are: AMIC-UGT, CITE-CCOO, the Barcelona Bar Association, Red Cross, the Consortium for Linguistic Normalization, and ABD.

Practical Details about SAIER

Avinguda Paral·lel, 202
Telephone: (34) 93 256 27 00 (reception) / saierinfo@bcn.cat
Schedule for Public Services:
- Monday-Thursday: 9:00 -19:00
- Friday: 9:00- 14:00

SAIER