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Brazil: New Immigration Policy Needed

(Jan. 20, 2012) During a meeting on January 13, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Minister of Defense, Celso Amorim, stated that Brazil needs to rethink its immigration policy because of the economic impact created by the increasing number of immigrants entering the country irregularly in search of better living conditions. (Política de Imigração Brasileira Precisa Ser Revista, Diz Amorim, O GLOBO (Jan 13, 2012).)

The purpose of Amorim's visit to Rio de Janeiro was to survey the catastrophic situation caused by the rain and extensive flooding that have recently deluged the state. His comments on immigration were made with particular reference to the many Haitians entering the country. Amorim was quoted as saying that it is not possible to become the sixth largest economy in the world “without punishment.” In the past, he went on to state, people were leaving the country, whereas now there are people who want to come to Brazil, a development that applies not only to the Haitians, but also to many Brazilians who are coming back home. This situation, he added, requires serious attention on the part of the government. (Id.)

The current Brazilian immigration law, developed during the period of military dictatorship in the late 1960s and 1970s, emphasizes the national security perspective. At present, there is a bill under review in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies tailored to a human rights perspective. (PL 5655/2009, Chamber of Deputies website (last visited Jan. 18, 2012).) The philosophy underlying the proposed law is to disassociate immigration from national security, simplify the entry into Brazil of citizens of MERCOSUR member countries and the Community of Countries of Portuguese Language, and adopt other measures designed, inter alia, to allow immigration to fuel economic development.