President Rejects Amnesty for Foreigners in New Immigration Law
The Brazilian government recently updated its immigration law. The original law was established in the 1980s when Brazil was under the rule of a military dictatorship. Now, some 30 years later, the government felt that it was time to take a new look at the law.
The new immigration law, which was sanctioned by President Michel Temer last month, is more in line with the president’s economic agenda. He is doing what he can to boost Brazil’s economy by opening Brazil to foreign trade and consequently giving foreigners additional rights than before.
Though many new items were passed, the president vetoed thirty items in the bill. Included in the items that were vetoed were provisions that would have granted amnesty to foreigners currently living illegally in Brazil. Though amnesty was not granted, the new immigration law has removed the practice of arresting illegal immigrants. As a result, foreigners who have overstayed their visas or have entered without a visa are able to legalize their immigration status without fear of being arrested.
For immigrants coming to Brazil fleeing dire political circumstances in their home countries, the new law allows them to obtain a temporary humanitarian visa. The law states that no foreigner shall be deported if the return to their home country poses a threat to their life or personal integrity.
Another new aspect of the immigration law is that foreigners now have access to an official work booklet, something that Brazilians are issued upon securing their first job. The little blue booklet is a way to ensure job security, social security rights, and labor rights. Without the booklet, foreigners working in Brazil were vulnerable to unfair working conditions.
Immigration experts and human rights advocates in Brazil all feel differently about the new immigration law. Some feel it goes too far, giving too many new rights to foreigners. Others feel it does not go far enough, citing the rejection of the amnesty provisions as the main source of their disappointment. At a time when the United States government is at a stalemate on immigration reform, Brazil is at least taking positive steps forward to promote change.