This month we interviewed Jaime Martínez-Marí, a retired lawyer from Barcelona, who decided to become a volunteer for MigraCode
When deciding how to use his newfound time, an essential prerequisite for him was to take part in an activity that had a social impact. His daughter came to his aid, and after some online research, she found MigraCode. He immediately liked the idea of contributing to the program, and a couple of calls later, Jaime became part of the MigraCode volunteer team.
What convinced him was the desire to feel useful and to help others by using the knowledge he had worked for all his life. As Jaime stated:
“I have been a lawyer for 50 years, and now I like that everything I have learned over these years can be of use to people”.
Volunteering also meant accepting a new challenge while being able to continue learning the profession, because we know, “as a lawyer, you learn every day”.
On the MigraCode side, being able to count on a figure like Jaime is critical. As program coordinator, Vincent van Grondelle claimed: “it’s amazing to have someone with so much experience as a lawyer to give legal advice to the students and point them in the right direction”.
Free legal advice is part of the support that MigraCode offers to its students, alongside linguistic and mental health support. This offer is possible only thanks to the involvement of volunteers and partner organizations.
MigraCode students need advice on various legal topics, such as residence, employment status, or regularization of papers. Bureaucracy is complicated, and understanding how to deal with legal documentation can be tricky and frustrating. It is not as simple to recognize the legal steps to follow in each process. Thus, having someone available who can provide free legal advice is highly valuable.
The Spanish immigration law reform, a change for the better?
As there has been a lot of debate in Spain this year about the Immigration Law reform, we wanted to ask Jaime for his opinion. The reform was designed to regularize people with irregular administrative situations, ease their entrance into the labor market and lift workers’ working conditions and wages.
Among other things, the main points of the reform were:
- Facilitating the acquisition of the residence permit for 12 months if accompanied by proof of the completion of a training course. A new figure was even created for this reason: “arraigo por formación”.
- Lowering the economic requirements for family regrouping.
- Adding the possibility of losing the temporary and long-term residence permit for persons convicted of human trafficking or smuggling.
To our question whether the reform will improve certain aspects of the Spanish migration model, Jaime answered:
“All reforms are improvements, in this case, the aim is to simplify things and make the procedures less complicated. It is a more open law. At the same time, you have to bear in mind that every law is born old. The law comes out to solve a problem. When it comes out, the problem has already evolved. The law tries to fix problems that existed with the previous law, but overall it’s a positive step”.
How volunteering feels for Jaime
During these months of volunteering, Jaime has always been available to draw on his experience to provide legal advice to the students and this commitment is appreciated by both parties.
When we asked him what surprised him as a volunteer at MigraCode, Jaime replied:
“I was pleasantly surprised by the dedication and efforts the team puts into it, that the people involved work for it with all the interest in the world, and that whoever comes is always welcome. The volunteering experience so far has been very positive“.
Jaime is motivated to continue with his volunteer work at MigraCode, and we are happy and honored to have him as such an experienced, dedicated, and professional volunteer in our program.