Rescue ships dock in Spain as migrant debate roils Europe

Boat migrants rocked by EU political storm to arrive in Spain

Spain takes in boat packed with hundreds of refugees after Italy turns it away

"There will be a before and after", said Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, a priest who heads the Messengers of Peace non-governmental organisation which is helping migrants at the port.

Almost half of the 630 migrants from the rescue boat Aquarius want to seek asylum in France, the Spanish government said Monday. Aid workers awaiting their arrival clapped and cheered as the first migrants walked down the gangway.

However, 42 migrants rescued this week by a United States ship off Libya before being transferred to an Italian coastguard vessel already carrying 500 migrants would be allowed to land in Italy, media reported in Rome on Sunday.

But the plight of the Aquarius, run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) with Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee, highlighted the European Union's failure to agree on how to manage the huge influx of people fleeing poverty and conflict. The 930-mile journey across the Mediterranean took almost a week.

Salvini said at the weekend that "we are no longer the doormats of Europe" on migrants after the Aquarius case.

"I have mixed feelings", Noguera told The Associated Press as the first boat arrived in Valencia.

The Aquarius itself entered the port shortly after after carrying another 106 migrants. Each was assigned to a translator, and authorities worked to determine their identities before they were sent to welcome centers.

Carmen Moreno, a doctor and Red Cross volunteer who helped look after the migrants after they disembarked, said they were "very excited and hopeful".

His comments made headlines in a country still reeling from the weeklong standoff he started by refusing entry to the Aquarius, a rescue ship carrying 630 migrants who were picked up in waters off Libya.

Initial medical examinations show no serious injuries or illnesses among the refugees.

Turning his attention to another group that has often been the target of League ire, Salvini said his ministry was looking at "the Roma question" and wanted to see "who, and how many" there were.

Due to their ordeal, the migrants from the Aquarius have been granted special authorization to remain in Spain for 45 days before they must begin resolving their legal situation.

"Spain will act with sensitivity and at the same time within the law, and with a message to Europe that it doesn't have an immigration policy up to the challenge at hand".

"I left Sierra Leone nearly 11 months ago...because I want to protect my baby girls who they want to circumcise".

The boatload of migrants that was forced to spend days crossing the western Mediterranean includes 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children and as many as seven pregnant women, according to Valencia's regional authorities.

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