Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Columns & Features > Global Views > Brazil’s amnesty of its undocumented highlights the need for a 3-part approach to longlasting immigration reform

Brazil’s amnesty of its undocumented highlights the need for a 3-part approach to longlasting immigration reform

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.

Related posts


  • Texan123
    July 9, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    If Immigration Reform in the US meant some form of temporary legal status verses citizenship, it might be easier for citizens to swallow. Brazil will not allow the immigrants to run for public office or vote, apparently.
    Our borders are much more porous that Brazil’s and more people come here illegally in one month than a year there. We have to do more to secure the border and increase penalties on those who are found in our country illegally.

  • Dave Bennion
    July 9, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Great post! Lula for prez!

  • laura
    July 9, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Gracias Marisa!
    In fact, Brazil has vast, and non-controlled, borders with the majority of countries of Latin America. (From Wikipedia: Brazil has 9,767 mi of borders with Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. The only South American countries with which Brazil does not share borders are Chile and Ecuador.) Though Brazil has for many years had high unemployment – above 10% – President Lula recognizes that the undocumented immigrants to Brazil come from countries that are even poorer and offer even less opportunities to struggling families. Brazil is itself a country with much poverty and even hunger. This makes their humane approach to the undocumented immgrants in their communities even more admirable.
    Why can Brazil, a poor country with long-term high unemployment, be so much more civilized to its undocumented immigrants than the United States? Or let’s ask: can we be as civilized to the undocumented workers in our midst as the Brazilian people are?

  • Texan123
    July 11, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Does Brazil offer all the welfare benefits that the US does? If so, then why don’t more of the surrounding countries send their poor there?
    The US sets immigration limits for a reason. Even a great country can not absorb all the world’s poor. If this trend continues and amnesty is granted here, yet again, more poor, uneducated, unskilled workers will come than we can afford to provide services for.
    When we are forced to cut services, Medicaid, and Social Security checks, we will all be looking for a better life.

  • Horace
    July 12, 2009 at 9:53 am

    “Or let’s ask: can we be as civilized to the undocumented workers in our midst as the Brazilian people are?”
    The vast majority of the “civilized” world doesn’t support the nonsense that you promote. It summarily deports its illegal immigrants; giving them far less consideration prior to doing so.

  • che
    July 12, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Right on Texan. I’m not familiar with what Brazil offers it’s citizens or naturalized citizens, but it would be interesting to find out. This article implies Americans are heartless and should be more like Brazilians…. do you know that Brazil has something like 69% business taxes? Mexico has almost 50%, US has 42% total business tax. The gov’t taking all that money out of the people’s hands, and brazil is still a developing country along with an enormous wealth inequality. America is great because it has always been different from the world. We have seen countries fail. And a certain group of our population are ignorant to the facts. If America doesn’t straighten up right quick, I can point you in the direction to where it will end up.As a Mexican ex-pat myself, I can truly say that I came here to be an American. If I would have brought the Mexican way with me none of the naturalized citizens here in America would ever be part of the political system a la Mexican constitution.

  • laura
    July 13, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    While Brazil has its share of difficult problems, Brazilians do not blame their problems on poor people who work there without visas to try to support their families back home. That is what some white Americans try to do, instead of looking at the rich and powerful who have shipped our jobs out of the US, and who have also deprived the people in poor countries of their livelihoods. NAFTA is one important way this was done.
    Scapegoating weaker people for one’s problems instead of standing up to the people who really ripped us off, is not only cowardly, it is also useless. On the other side, of course it is not easy to stand up to the immensely rich people who have brought us to this point – take a look at Matt Taibbi’s article on Goldman Sachs in the recent Rolling Stone magazine. For cowardly people, it is easier to beat up a Mexican.
    With respect to Brazil: when President Lula of the Workers’ Party was elected, he implemented a program called Bolsa Familia, where poor families – 44 million people, 20% of Brazil’s population – get $45 per month if their children stay in school and get their vaccinations. This has made the difference between hunger and healthy growth for millions of children. It seems like Brazilian business taxes are going somewhere useful. Maybe somewhere more useful than to buy another helicopter for city commuting of some super-rich Sao Paulo business people.

  • cookie
    July 14, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Outsourcing and illegal immigraton are both problems for the American people. Facts aren’t scapegoating.

  • Evelyn
    July 15, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Facts aren’t scapegoating.
    What you call facts are out right lies.

  • Horace
    July 15, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    “What you call facts are out right lies.”
    My standard for lies is your unkept promise to stay out of this blog. Don’t get me wrong, Evelyn, as I really don’t care whether you show up or not, as your racism and histrionics just discredit the cause of illegal aliens.

  • Evelyn
    July 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Horace :
    “What you call facts are out right lies.”
    My standard for lies is your unkept promise to stay out of this blog. Don’t get me wrong, Evelyn, as I really don’t care whether you show up or not
    If my presence didnt bother you you wouldent be so hung up about it.
    What is funny is you were one of those people that called me out to come back and answer the lies you spew.

  • LAmazon
    July 18, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Well, to the folks up north, I am one of the 200,000 here in Brazil illegally. I am a US citizen who left the US almost 9 years ago.
    I am answering Texas123’s question of what Brazil offers. It offers full nationalized healthcare, consistant welfare for single parents, the elderly, and medically disabled, immense regions of avalible land, both in cities and rural areas.
    LAmazon, Tabatinga Brazil.

Comments are closed.