On July 2nd, a new law was sanctioned to legalize the situation of an estimated 50,000 foreigners living irregularly in the country. The ceremony took place at the Ministry of Justice and during the event President Lula criticized the “unfair” immigration policy of rich countries. *”We don’t want any kind of privilege for any Brazilian living in any part of the world. All we want is for Brazilians living abroad to be treated in the same way as we treat foreigners here in Brazil,”* he said. Lula strongly criticized the “prejudice and discrimination policies” of rich countries against foreigners. “Intolerance and repression against immigrants will not solve the problems caused by the worldwide economic crisis”, said the President, reminding everyone about his origins as a poor migrant from the northeast to get a better job in Sao Paulo.
Pre-history of democracy in Europe
Brazilian Minister of Justice, Tarso Genro, also criticized the position of countries that criminalize immigrants for simply being in their territories. *”Certain European countries are in the pre-history of democracy,”* said the Minister. The new law benefits those immigrants who have entered Brazil illegally, those with expired visas and those who have not obtained conditional permanent residence in the country. According to the new law, foreigners will have the same rights and duties as Brazilians except that they cannot run for political seats. They will have access to health and education and can work without any restrictions. The President has signed a message and forwarded to Congress the project that modifies the Foreigners Law of 1980 and thereby also substitutes its repressive character with humanitarian concepts, as recommended by the United Nations.
*”Work and dignity to the immigrant is the answer Brazil is giving to the intolerance of rich countries,”* said Lula. He asked Minister of Justice, Tarso Genro, to give him a summary of measures adopted by Brazil in favor of immigrants to take to the G-8 meeting to be held next week in Italy. *”I will show the leaders of the big economies Brazil’s disappointment with their policy against immigrants.”* Coincidentally, the meeting will be held in one of the countries that is adopting the most restrictive policies against immigrants. In Italy, Berlusconi’s government has approved a law that proposes the formation of civil committees to report immigrants.