The Minister of Internal Affairs considers, this Monday, that Portugal needs immigrants, and in the coming decades should privilege “legal, safe and orderly migration mechanisms” so that the rights to health, housing and work are guaranteed.
“Portugal, a country, as the latest censuses say, is marked by aging, needs migrant citizens. That is why it must privilege legal, safe and orderly migration mechanisms as a way of guaranteeing respect for human rights in such different domains, such as the right to health, decent housing and the right to a fair employment relationship, “said Eduardo Cabrita, at the opening session of the international conference Forced Returns and Human Rights, organized by the General Inspectorate of Internal Administration (IGAI).
The government official maintained that legal migration is “a priority” that obliges Portugal “to be inflexible in what concerns the management of common borders and the fight against criminal phenomena that live on extreme human fragility”.
In this regard, he stated that trafficking in human beings must be “combated on a national scale and articulately on a European scale”, highlighting the new mandate of the European border control agency Frontex, the “first European force with its own operational means” and that it must have up to 10,000 staff in 2027.
Eduardo Cabrita also said that Europe must “look at managing migratory flows in a coordinated, coherent and above all prepared way”, taking into account the humanitarian dimension of recent events in Afghanistan.
At the conference, the minister highlighted the changes registered in Portugal, which in the last few decades “has been a country that receives citizens of multiple origins”.
“Portugal, which had less than 100,000 foreign citizens 30 years ago, reached, even in times of pandemic, around 680,000 foreign citizens legally by the end of 2020”, he stressed.
According to Eduardo Cabrita, more than half a million citizens have not acquired Portuguese nationality since 2007, when the nationality law underwent relevant changes.
“Since then, the number of acquisitions of Portuguese nationality has gone from around five thousand a year to more than 50 thousand a year”, he stated, stressing that the returns to the countries of origin of migrants who arrive in Portugal in an irregular manner must be made for “respect for human dignity”.
In her speech, the general inspector of the Internal Administration, Anabela Cabral Ferreira, stated that support for forced returns is a strategic area of the IGAI.
“Since 2015 the IGAI has been the entity that monitors the action of forced returns in Portugal. An area that deserves growing and permanent attention, since the vulnerability of human beings who arrive in Portugal and wish to remain in the country,” he said.
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