Brazil: Social Organizations demand the voting of a new Migration Law

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Source: Rute Pina, Brasil de Fato | The Dawn News | November 24, 2016

The modification of the law, which was created during the military dictatorship, is one of the demands of the Migrants’ March.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano
Source: Resumen Latinoamericano


Project bill no. 2516/15, known as the “new migration law”, is being debated at the National Congress of Brazil. The project is awaiting to be voted on by the plenary of the Chamber of Deputies since last year.

With the aim of making the migrant question visible in the country, and in support of new project bill, immigrants of different nationalities, organizations and social movements convened at the 10th Edition of the Migrants’ March, on Sunday November 27th. In Sao Paulo, the concentration was made on Paulista Av, at 9 am.

In addition to demanding a more democratic and human rights-based legislation, the Migrant March seeks to draw attention on  the need for migrants to have access to public policies and free justice, and to fight against xenophobia.

Under the slogan “Dignity for Migrants Around the World”, the march was convened by various organizations such as the Migrant Women’s Front, Casa das Áfricas, Saúde sin Fronteras —which makes up the Organizing Committee— and institutions such CAMI (Centre of Assistance to Migrants), the Franciscan Solidarity Service (Sefras) and the Center for Reference and Care for Immigrants (Crai).

Parliamentary Debate

In order to support the process of approbation of the project bill and to avoid setbacks, representatives of the civil society organizations, such as Peace Mission and Conectas Human Rights, gathered last Tuesday, November 22nd, in Brasilia, with the President of the Special Commission and the spokespeople of the Chamber: Deputies Bruna Furlan, Orlando Silva and Senator Aloyso Nunes, who is the author of the bill. Legislators stressed that the project could go on to be debated on by the Senate.

The project bill would replace the Statute on Foreigners, created in 1980 during the military dictatorship, and which is based on the objectives of securing borders and tightening national security. The new rule would end restrictions on migrants’ rights, such as the current prohibition on participating in political demonstrations and it would grant more rights such as humanitarian visas. In Brazil, at the moment, only Haitian and Syrian refugees have access to this benefit.

In July, the special commission responsible for the analysis of the project ruled in favor of the project. If the Chamber seconds this decision, the project bill will go on to the Senate, where it had already been approved at the first instance.

“By allowing migrants to have the same rights as Brazilians, we will break the national security paradigm. In order to do that, we have to guarantee free circulation within the country. Issues such as deportation and repatriation have to be exceptions. But there’s not enough understanding of that yet in Brazil”, Silva said.


According to Leticia Carvalho, representative of the organization Mission for Peace, the prognosis is that the voting will be favorable, without any restriction. She said the old statute is “outdated” and “makes life difficult” for foreigners in the country. According to her, the bill changes the paradigm by placing Human Rights as the founding principle of the national migration policy.

According to Carvalho, one of the main points of the bill is the “non-criminalization of migrants”, this means that nobody can be deprived of freedom due to lack of documentation.

“One of the most important steps is, above all, the possibility of regularizing the situation of people who are living in Brazil without proper documentation. And on the other hand, having a non-discriminatory policy for migrants, that is in accordance with the current world context and with how Brazil stands before the international community”, she said.

While admitting there had been some progress made, Leticia also expressed caution regarding the new text. According to her, the bill has undergone changes since it was negotiated upon with sectors that resisted the original text and that defend the interests of the Federal Police–which is currently a fundamental organism in the structure of the migratory politics.

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