Barcelona/Brussels — Lennys fled her native Venezuela a decade ago as trouble brewed during the later years of former president Hugo Chávez’s rule. Her father died at the hands of a criminal gang as a full-blown economic and political crisis loomed. She travelled to Barcelona, Spain, on a tourist visa to join a friend, and never returned. Now in her mid-40s, Lennys has lived in what migration experts call “irregular” status ever since, without official permission to stay. Once a human resources manager in her homeland, she has worked in the Catalan capital mainly as a maid, boosting her income of about €700 a month with piecemeal jobs paying €35 to €40 a time. She is not alone. Lennys — not her real name — is part of a shadow population living in Europe that pre-dates the arrival of several million people on the continent in the past few years, amid war and chaos in regions of the Middle East and Africa. That influx, which has fueled Eurosceptic nativism, has, if anything, complicat...

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