The minister of Internal Affairs considered 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, as the latest censuses say, is marked by aging, it needs migrant citizens. That’s why must privilege mechanisms of legal, safe and orderly migration as a way to guarantee respect for human rights in such different areas, such as the right to health, adequate housing and the right to a fair employment relationship.” said Eduardo Cabrita, at the opening session of the international conference on 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 forces Portugal “to be inflexible in what concerns the management of common European 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 at national level and in articulation at European level”, highlighting the new mandate of the European border control agency Frontex, the “first European force with its own operational means” and which should have up to 10,000 staff in 2027.
Eduardo Cabrita also said that Europe must “look at managing migration flows in a coordinated, coherent and above all in a prepared manner” taking into account the humanitarian dimension of recent events in Afghanistan.
More than half a million foreign citizens have acquired Portuguese nationality since 2007
At the conference, the minister highlighted the changes registered in Portugal, which in recent decades has become “a country that receives foreign citizens from multiple origins”.
“Portugal, which 30 years ago had less than 100,000 foreign citizens, reached, even in times of pandemic, around 680,000 foreign citizens legally residing at the end of 2020”, he pointed out.
According to Eduardo Cabrita, more than half a million foreign citizens have acquired Portuguese nationality since 2007, when the nationality law underwent significant changes.
“Since then, the number of acquisitions of Portuguese nationality has gone from around 5,000 a year to more than 50,000 a year,” he said., stressing that the returns to the countries of origin of migrants who arrive in Portugal in an irregular manner must be made out of “respect for human dignity”.
In her intervention, 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, due to the vulnerability of human beings who arrive in Portugal and who want to remain in the country“he maintained.