MALAGA, Spain—On a recent Wednesday morning, Montee Thompson sat on the edge of a concrete planter box outside the central bus station in this coastal town in southern Spain, where palm trees dot the landscape and, during the summer months, tourists come by the busload to sun themselves on the beach. The 36-year-old was unsure of where he was, or what he should do next.
Originally from Liberia, Thompson had arrived in Spain the previous weekend, having traveled from Morocco in a small rubber boat carrying 15 other men. The group spent nearly a full day adrift at sea before the Spanish coast guard found them and brought them ashore in the coastal town of Algeciras. Members of the Red Cross briefly examined them before turning them over to the police.
Three days later, Thompson was released and put on a bus destined for Malaga with 54 other men, all of them recent arrivals from different parts of Africa. Their bus arrived in the middle of the night. The men had no contacts in Malaga, yet they were told to disembark and weren’t given any further instructions.