The seven pregnant women on board the ships are to be immediately taken for check-ups, and all the arrivals, including 123 minors, will receive psychological help, Spanish Red Cross officials said. The insistence of the new Italian government, led by the League and the Five Star Movement, to curb the arrival of migrants and asylum-seekers has already rocked relations with France, which on Saturday offered to help Spain take those landing in Valencia.
The Aquarius, a Doctors Without Borders vessel that rescued migrants off Libya's coast last week and was refused harbor by Italy and Malta, docked in Spain Sunday. The next two will follow in three-hour intervals, said Inigo Vila of the Spanish Red Cross.
Under blue skies, migrants danced and sang, their excitement captured in footage released on Twitter by SOS Mediterranee which operates the rescue vessel with Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
"Relief & happiness on board the #Aquarius as we see Spanish shores".
"They should know that Italy no longer wants to be an accomplice in the business of illegal immigration and therefore they will have to aim for other non-Italian ports".
Spain's offer, Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said, was a "political gesture" to "oblige Europe to forge a common policy to a common problem". "I am happy that the journey is over, a journey that was too long, and I am anxious for the situation in the Mediterranean and the closing of European ports".
Spain's maritime rescue service says it has saved 933 people and recovered four bodies from dozens of migrant boats attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea over the past two days.
Meanwhile the new prime minister in Spain, Pedro Sanchez, welcomed the migrants as he vowed to avoid a "humanitarian catastrophe".
Macron had been critical of Italy's refusal to accept the Aquarius migrants but later worked to smooth things over with Italy's Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte.
Since taking office on June 1, Italy's hard-line interior minister and deputy premier, Matteo Salvini, has pledged to end irregular migration into Italy via the Mediterranean.
"At this moment, the boat is arriving in Spain with 629 presumed refugees and so I thank the Spanish government".
"Some people praised me by telling me that we shouldn't accept any [asylum seekers], but the only reason I refused them was because they weren't our responsibility according to global law, a point that the European Commission and all worldwide NGOs agreed with", he said.
"The guarantee is that we will balance humanity and sensitivity toward these people with the fact that we live in a country that has its laws", she said.
The other migrants will arrive on an Italian navy ship, the Orione, and the Aquarius itself by noon, regional authorities said.
Salvini, whose unashamedly xenophobic rhetoric formed a key part of his party's election campaign, appears determined to make the migration question his main priority even if Italy's denial of a safe harbour to the Aquarius this week sparked global outrage.
"I felt emotional when I saw posts on social media by the Italian community in Malta saying that Malta acted correctly [in the Aquarius case] and calling Malta their new home", he said.