On Wednesday, the Senate approved the new Migration Law that guarantees the same rights for immigrants and native Brazilians. In addition to regulating the entry and exit of foreigners into the country, the text establishes fundamental rights and responsibilities. The law now awaits President Temer’s sanction.
Per the legal measures in the new text, immigrants will benefit from the same inviolable human rights as Brazilian nationals. These rights include the right to life, liberty, equality, security, and property. Furthermore, it guarantees immigrants the same rights to public services like healthcare and education. Immigrants will also receive work documentation and the right to social security. Finally, immigrants will have the opportunity to hold public office or work in the public sector, except for those expressly reserved for Brazilian-born nationals.
Moreover, the law criminalizes human trafficking, targeting traffickers who facilitate the illegal entry of foreigners into Brazil (or of Brazilians into foreign countries). The punishment for such acts is 2 to 5 years in prison, plus a fine. Sentences vary in cases involving violence.
The text also protects refugees, assuring that no person fearing persecution in their home country will ever face deportation.
Several aspects of the text generated points of controversy among congressmen. For one, the Lower House tried to eliminate immigrants’ equal access to the job market. However, the Senate reinstated the measure with the argument that migration contributes to job development.
Another controversy was the right of indigenous peoples to travel freely across national borders according to their traditional territorial occupations. Some politicians felt that this would leave Brazil’s borders more vulnerable to drug trafficking from neighboring countries Colombia, Venezuela, and Paraguay. However, the indigenous peoples’ rights to move freely in order to maintain their traditional way of life – as guaranteed by the Constitution – ultimately won out.