Living in the Shadows

Everyday thousands of sub-Saharan Africans try to enter Europe by crossing the divide that separates the two continents. Those that make it to Spain are customarily detained while the Spanish authorities attempt to determine their age and nationality. Because of a complexity of reasons, including insufficient government funding, the lack of repatriation agreements between Spain and many African countries and the fact that many sub-Saharan Africans lack documentation, thousands of immigrants cannot be repatriated. After 40 days of captivity in overcrowded detention centers they are released. In some cases they are flown from the Canary Islands to cities in mainland Spain, like Barcelona, where they are released without a residency or work permit. They are left in a legal limbo, which drives them underground, living in the shadows and scraping to survive.