Spain grants 700,000 illegal immigrants legal status

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Spain has granted amnesty to 700,000 illegal immigrants, the Guardian reports. The Spanish Government hopes this will help to end exploitation of those working secretly in the black economy.

Illegal workers and their employers were given a three-month period to apply for Spanish residence and work permits. The Socialist Government claimed that 80 to 90 percent of the country's illegal workers had taken advantage of the opportunity.

Officials said that, including workers' families, more than a million people would no longer have to hide from police or labour inspectors. According to reports, Ecuadorians, Romanians, Moroccans and Colombians made up most of the applicants.

Critics said the amnesty had attracted a flood of extra immigrants, including many who had been living illegally in France, Germany and Italy.

Spain has overtaken France as a host country for migrants after seeing numbers quadruple to 3.7 million since 2000.