LatinaLista — The issue of undocumented immigration and its consequences is not unique to the United States. Countries throughout the world are grappling with the same problem. Sometimes, their approaches to solving this universal dilemma is worse than what is being considered in the United States and sometimes it’s better — far better.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a law last week that legalized the country’s estimated 200,000 undocumented immigrants.
The new bill establishes that undocumented foreigners who entered the country prior to Feb. 1 will now have the right to ask for a temporary residence permit valid for two years, and once that period has elapsed it will be able to be converted into permanent residence.
The text of the bill says that “the foreigners benefitted by this bill will have the same rights and duties as native-born Brazilians, with the exception of the exclusive ones (accorded) to those born in the country, such as the possibility of running for elective office.”
However, it doesn’t stop there.
Lula da Silva and his administration are also revamping their immigration policy to make it more “humane” and protect immigrants from human traffickers and other organized crime rings.
Speaking with reporters, Lula da Silva said, “In our eyes, repression, discrimination and intolerance do not address the root of the problem. Illegal immigration is a humanitarian question that should not be confused with criminality.”
No one will know if Lula da Silva and the Brazilian people would feel differently if the number of undocumented immigrants in their country numbered 12 million instead of 200,000 but the fact remains that he is correct when saying that immigration should not be confused with criminality.
Yet in a world that thrives on seeing situations as black or white, right or wrong, to see illegal immigration as anything but a crime is impossible for those individuals or governments who fail to understand the human motivation that triggers illegal immigration.
Lula da Silva also took to task the U.S., the European Union and other “rich countries” for dealing so harshly with undocumented immigrants.
Critics may say it’s easy for Lula da Silva to do what he did but the truth of the matter is there are always those in a country who support the rights of undocumented immigrants and those who do not. The disagreement is never cordial.
It’s clear that any solution to illegal immigration has to include three components:
1. Recognize the undocumented who already call a particular country home; 2. Create and enforce an immigration policy that would prevent a build-up of undocumented immigrants because people will always migrate to improve their lives and; 3. Create active partnerships with those countries identified as the home countries of undocumented immigrants to help improve economic conditions so that the motivation to come illegally is reduced.
Brazil has already implemented the first component and is working on the second but it will have to wait for the third one until the world understands that it’s human nature to flee bad (economic) situations for ones that offer more hope.