In this article, I hope to inform you didactically about the real situation of illegal immigration around the world, highlighting a country that I see every day: Brazil. To start our exploration of this recurring topic, let us read the following adapted excerpt from a Brazilian media site, announcing one more boat with illegal immigrants recently arrived in Italy:
“The Coast Guard of Italy stated on Saturday (July 25th) that they had rescued 111 immigrants traveling aboard a pneumatic boat in the Mediterranean Sea (…) Many of them were minors. The sum of the number of immigrants rescued by the authority in the last three days has reached over a thousand. On Thursday, two more discoveries were made: one with 451 people and another carrying 335 people. The release of this new rescue occurred as Italian broadcasters showed the arrival of 785 other immigrants from Africa and Syria, largely, on Saturday morning in the port of Palermo, in Sicily, in the south. Another vessel with immigrants is expected to arrive in the port of Pozzallo (also in Sicily) in Saturday, although it is not known how many people are on board.”
In this sensational news, we can observe the level of chaos that immigration (which in this case is illegal) has been inciting, especially North African people refugees travelling to the region of the European Union. It is a greedy war between those who suffer from hunger, scarcity, illness and oppression and those in more stable situation, in good conditions, who have well-demarcated territory and, mostly, a closed culture, not wanting to provide space to foreigners or wage war, obviously because they value the safe integrity of their state over outsiders.
Africa as a whole (especially its northern part at the moment) has been facing government collapses, conflicts, crises, violence and other significant unrest. 2011 saw the coming of the Arab Spring. Since then, the already significant flow of refugees who drive in such a region to the European Union has only intensified, challenging the structures of this last continent. Syrian irregular travelers and Libyans are the most abundant, and their most common destinations are Italy, Germany, the UK and even Greece, contributing a lot to the worsening of the political and economic outlook that is already unstable in those regions.
Even Oceania, which is not the first place that would come to mind, has reported waves of immigrants from less stable places like Sri Lanka, Burma and Bangladesh; the continent strongly rejects every arrival, deporting them to Indonesia or its detention centers in the neighboring islands, recently a cause of controversy due to testimonies of abuse released by the detainees to the media.
The United States, being a major global power, has much expertise on illegal immigration; it continually intervenes in own borders, especially with migrants from neighbouring Mexico. Drastic measures have been taken to stop these people, who are coming today from even more distant places such as China, India and Brazil.
And the same Brazil which sees a considerable number of people emigrate each year, is also the destination of many Haitians, Bolivians, Senegalese, Bengalis and Dominicans. Some of these people are outlaws.
Standard Migration in the World
It is easy to see the motivation behind migratory patterns around the globe: in a troubled and usually poorer region, an individual seeks a better place – a land of opportunities and hope for a more prosperous future. However, to reach their goal, the migrant is subject to various obstacles. Different routes and methods of travel all carry their own costs, debts, huge risks, pain and inhumane conditions; unfortunately, a recurring scenario in our world.
Final destination: Brazil
In mid-February of this year, it was reported nationally that a gang operating in Piracanjuba, a small town near the state capital of Goiás, was smuggling Brazilians to the United States. In the aftermath of the investigation “Operation Coyote”, the police found that a total of 49 people had been transported by this group, coming from different cities in the country, and that the route that left the quiet city was actually one of the biggest headed to the US.
It was not unusual that these people sought a better life. But the means to achieve this was quite wrong. They lived with stability in Brazil, yet unconstitutionally crossed the American borders. Today, the US is generally receptive to immigrants. But when they come illegally and in greater numbers, as this case, similar to some Mexicans who until a few years ago came in droves to the US, it is very difficult to let them stay, unpunished.
In everyday interaction with the public, even immigrants within the law face problems. In addition to being subject to xenophobia, ‘aliens’ may have a language barrier which prevents them from acquiring the most basic needs (food, shelter, work, etc.). They are also deprived of a normal life, living in the shadow of the law, working with no security (for not having any accreditation) and easily being drawn into crime. When the honchos persuade migrants to be trafficked across along with drugs and weapons, they lure them with promises of security and future economic abundance. In reality, the US authorities easily discover these schemes and severely punish the organizers and accomplices, counting on the support of the local population, who do not hesitate to report malpractice.
According to a 2010 census, 2 in every 3 Brazilian immigrants are living unregistered in their countries of residence (such as USA, UK, Portugal, Paraguay, Argentina, France, Switzerland Japan, Italy, Germany, France or Switzerland). Brazil is trying to protect them and regularize them to the fullest. An example of this can be seen in Paraguay, a country that has received such migrants in fairly large numbers since 1970 (when they started growing their search for bigger fertile lands) and that by the end of 2011 already seen settled about 10,000 of this population, a breakthrough considering that when “brasiguaios” come to the Latin American country unprotected by law, they are soon rejected by local population; a story that is also repeated on the borders with other countries, such as Bolivia, and that if untreated, generate political disagreements.
In an opposing situation of a traveler misrepresenting Brazilian laws, the supervision is not that meticulous. One of the motives of this is because Brazil does not have a strong history of illegal immigration to the United States. But this is increasing and the government appears to be taking measures that have been showing very little efficiency, or worse, creating aggravation. An example of this are the statements of the Minister of Justice, that said they would extend the visa distribution in Port au Prince, Haiti’s capital, so that the country’s immigrants can legally enter Brazil. The aim of the measure, according to the minister, is to combat the activities of groups that exploit immigrants in clandestine routes.
However, there are up to 29,000 people without a visa within Brazil, and no action has been made to solve this internal issue thus far. A large number of these individuals have a final destination in the state of Acre. Indeed, this state has no legal liability for these immigrants, and have put them on buses and taken them to other Brazilian regions, without notification, spreading them across the territory and leaving them waiting for good luck, without even a minimum guarantee of housing.
What happens next is that even if they find work, these men end up finding home on the outskirts of cities. The slums, on the streets as beggars, or at degrading work as slaves, contributing very little to the growth of Brazil, bringing sore spots, more crime and urban swelling. Unfortunately, this country is going through a time of an almost unproductive economy. It is not prepared to receive legal immigrants, as it can barely support the economically active of the housing total, or stop the illegal immigration as a whole.
The chaos caused by the arrival of these travelers in major cities is visible. A church from the center of São Paulo that receives Haitians, legal and illegal, from the earthquake in 2010, said that “since October 2014, it is in at an emergency situation” and added that “on the one hand, we are making the reception. On the other, we are in dialogue with the Department of Human Rights and the various institutions to try to sensitize them to do their role, which is to open an emergency room for this Haitians.”
To change this scenario in Brazil, however, it takes more than arranging shelters that will soon become overcrowded with migrants who arrive seeking refuge or who have experienced natural disasters. It is essential to deal with their undeniable arrival. For this, the government should focus on truly effective measures; perhaps creating more shelters distributed by regions that are able to support migrants; in any way, also streamlining the delivery of visas and work permits even before they get here, so they won’t have to remain in hiding; contributing more to the troubled countries through troops, funding, humanitarian aid, or giving our own Brazilian borders a more efficacious scrutiny.\
The culture that reflects the day-to-day
One of the greatest Brazilian artists in the music business is Caetano Veloso. In addition to being highly intelligent, the singer-songwriter has plenty of talent and is never afraid to show who he really is – what actually is wonderful as he is truly unique. In partnership with Gilberto Gil, another musician of the same line, with unforgettable and smart songs just as Veloso, the “Haiti” song emerged in 1993. It is a timeless critique about the partial government of such a diverse population as Brazil’s, showing the silent racism, the lying speeches of “good politicians” and “good citizens” and calling for solidarity with the poor and neglected. Check out the music, its lyrics in Portuguese and its music video at the following link: Haiti, song by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.
In mid-July of 2015, the movie “Samba” debuted. Despite the name being the same of the Brazilian tropical dance, Samba is actually the name of the protagonist of the production, which has nothing to do with the famous dance of the carnival in Brazil, but rather to do with illegal immigration. The character came from Senegal to France, and continued to fail to get a visa, living illegally on small jobs. His irregularity is soon discovered by justice and as the young man awaits for his trial in prison, he is helped by two women from an NGO. Watch the trailer by accessing this link and know more about the movie on this website.