On the eve of the European elections, Portugal tightens the screws on immigration

A purely electoral plan, a few days before the European elections, or on the contrary beneficial, far from any populism? Portuguese editorialists are divided, while the new moderate right government presented, Monday June 3, a set of new measures to tighten immigration rulesnot, become a campaign theme in recent weeks.

In his editorial this morning, Public greet him “reasonable and humanist discourse” of Prime Minister, Luís Montenegro, during the presentation of these 41 new measures. One of them puts an end to the regime which allowed foreigners to enter the country and then apply for a residence permit. From now on, a single expression of interest is no longer enough, they must have an employment contract and present it to the consulate of the country they wish to leave before entering Portugal.

Economic needs and demographic decline

The newspaper’s director, David Pontes, notes, however, that these new border restrictions could collide with the economic reality of the country:

“A country with a birth rate like ours will continue to be in desperate need of a workforce that, in many cases, does not need to be highly skilled.”

Second oldest country in Europe, with the lowest birth rate on the continent, at 1.2%, while the demographic renewal rate is 2.1%, Portugal has focused in recent years on immigration to compensate for this demographic decline.

In five years, the number of foreigners has doubled. There are currently a million of them, or 10% of the population. Brazilians are by far the most represented nationality, ahead of many nationals from Asia, particularly India, employed on farms and in restaurants.

“The existence of a strategy is in itself an important step”, congratulates himself Diana Ramos in the Journal of Negotiations. The daily newspaper director recalls “that one in five companies in Portugal employs foreign workers, mainly in the tourism, construction and trade sectors. A plan to better accommodate these communities is essential to the country’s economic growth, and measures aimed at family reunification and integration are crucial.”

A plan that will reinforce illegality

Editorialist in the same newspaper, Camilo Lourenço agrees with the urgency of these measures:

“Portugal still needs immigrants. But he must choose who enters. Maintaining the status quo means creating the conditions for a repetition of what is happening in Sweden and France. With the inevitable political radicalization.”

Daniel Oliveira, columnist at Espresso, For his part, believes that the government’s plan will not stem the flow of immigrants and will strengthen criminal networks:

“As long as the economy needs them, foreigners will come in the same proportions. Whatever the law, as the UK discovered, no matter how harsh it is. They will only remain illegal, in the hands of networks and employers. But it’s great news for those who profit from illegality.”

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