Just a couple of years ago the Canary Islands were collapsing under the pressure of the arrival of illegal immigrants from the Sub Saharan continent but now the economic downturn means the islands are no longer perceived as the gateway to the European land of milk and honey.
Those Cayucos – small local craft – that do make the crossing now prefer to head for the Spanish mainland and countries like Italy.
But at the height of the waves of undocumented arrivals the CIEs were hurriedly thrown together to house these unwanted visitors and it is these detention centres that have now become a drain on already struggling public resources.
According to central government representatives, in Tenerife the monthly average number of detainees is about 8 who are guarded by a dozen police officers (four per shift). In addition, the director and deputy director and other support workers, continue in their positions at the facility, generating a cost that is just not acceptable in the present climate.
In Congress recently, in response to a question from a Member of the United Left, they were told the CIEs of the archipelago cost the taxpayer over 1.6 million euros in 2011, most it, 1.1 million, for the facility at El Matorral (Fuerteventura), the largest in the country, with capacity for more than a thousand people.
The CIE at Hoya Fria cost 288,000 euros during the same period, while the Barranco Seco (Gran Canaria) 248,000 euros.
Over the whole of Spain, the operation of the nine such centres that still exist cost 8.3 million euros last year, including feeding, cleaning, consumption of electricity, water and gas, and medical services.
The state detains illegal immigrants during deportation proceedings for a statutory maximum of 60 days, although the average stay is about 37 days.
According to the Interior Ministry the expulsion of a deported foreigner, including the police escort and air or boat ticket, has an average cost of 1,807 euros.
8 in 10 illegal aliens deported in 2011 had police records.