BRASILIA – President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed into law Thursday a measure that will regularize the situation of the roughly 200,000 undocumented immigrants thought to be living in Brazil.
“With this ceremony, we’re thanking all the immigrants who helped and are continuing to help build our country,” declared Lula upon signing the bill, which was approved by Congress last month.
The broad amnesty laid out in the bill “puts Brazil ... on the level of the world immigration reality” and strengthens “the fundamental respect for human rights that is practiced in the country,” the president said.
The new law 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.”
The amnesty is similar to one approved in 1998 that permitted the regularization of about 40,000 illegal immigrants’ status.
At the same ceremony, Lula also placed his signature on a bill his government will send to Congress with the aim of “humanizing” Brazil’s 1980 immigration statute.
The government bill is designed to “confer a more human character on immigration” and seeks to improve “the situation of thousands of foreigners who are in the country without documents and are the target of traffickers in people or drugs, among other criminal organizations,” an aide to Lula said. EFE