Brazil will have to rethink its immigration policy due to the economic impact generated by the increasing entry of illegal aliens in the country in search of better living conditions. This is the opinion of Brazilian Defense minister, Celso Amorim, who for nearly a decade was Foreign Minister in the governments of president Itamar Franco (1993-1995) and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010).
Amorim attended Friday morning (January 13) a meeting with the military in Rio de Janeiro to gather information on rainfall in the region and used the occasion to talk about the recent wave of illegal immigration of Haitians to Brazil.
“You cannot become the sixth economy in the world with impunity. Typically, people used to get out of Brazil. Brazil has improved now. People wish to come to Brazil. Of course we will need to study how to face this new situation. We are not talking only about Haitians, but also Brazilians who are returning. We must try to exercise the same humanitarian spirit that is present [with the Peace Forces] in Haiti, in a manner that matches our means.”
The Brazilian minister remarked that the Haiti crisis is almost permanent and, with respect to the Brazilian Armed Forces, the work is to continue to contribute to improving the situation in Haiti and thus solve the problem of immigration. Brazil heads the UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) since April 2004. More than 2,200 Brazilian soldiers are in Haiti.
“We need to act in a balanced way so that people will not find here situation that are even more serious, either because they are exploited by coyotes or because they might be faced with conditions we cannot deal adequately with.”
In Brazil, the Haitians are concentrated in the cities of Brasileia, in the state of Acre, and Tabatinga, in Amazonas. State governments have protested against the social chaos caused by the immigration to those cities. The National Immigration Council, which operates under the Ministry of Labor, approved the granting of work visas on an exceptional basis to Haitians wishing to enter Brazil. The rule will restrict the issuance of visas to Haitian citizens conditioned to a maximum of 100 per month, and Haitians will have to apply for the document directly at the Embassy of Brazil in Haiti, in the capital, Port au Prince.
The 4,000 Haitians who were already in the country before the publication of the Council resolution won’t be expelled and they should be regularized. Of these, 1,600 have already received a humanitarian residence permit granted by the Brazilian Labor ministry.
However, from now on, Haitians who arrive in the country without a visa will be asked to leave the country. In case they won’t leave voluntarily, they will be deported. The resolution with the new rules was published January 13 in the Diário Oficial (Official Gazette).
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