The choice of location

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report reveals that in 2018 alone, more than 1,600 people died or disappeared trying to reach Europe by the Mediterranean Sea. The policies guided by the Return Directive and Dublin Convention, along with a series of security measures, including the establishment of lawsuits and penalties against defenders of migrants’ and refugees’ rights, make it increasingly necessary to have an in-depth discussion within the organized civil society about fundamental rights in migration contexts. 

 

Therefore, one can affirm that, in the European context, the migration topic is on the national and international agenda. The opportunity to carry out a democratic and social process of this magnitude in Portugal is considered timely, necessary, and urgent for migration issues in Europe. The significant number of immigrants residing, or in transit, in the European continent is worth mentioning. Eurostat data (2019) shows that in January 2018 there were 22.3 million non-European citizens (4.4%) out of a total of 512.4 million people living in Europe.

 

Portugal was the first country to adopt a national plan to implement the Global compact for migration, recently created a State Secretary for migrations, has a National plan for immigrants’ integration and implemented several municipal plans.

 

According to the Immigration, Borders and Asylum Report (RIFA) of the Borders and Foreigners Service (SEF), for three consecutive years, since 2017, the number of immigrants in Portugal has increased. The number of foreigners acquiring Portuguese nationality rose from 20,396 in 2015 to 28,856 in 2018. On the other hand, refusals to enter Portuguese national territory also increased: from 506 refusals in 2015 to 2,866 in 2018 (data from 2019 in the Immigration, Borders and Asylum Report).

 

Portugal was the first country to adopt a national plan to implement the Global compact for migration, recently created a State Secretary for migrations, has a National plan for immigrants’ integration and implemented several municipal plans. 

 

In terms of public policies, Portugal presents itself as an open country, eager to create mechanisms of equality, the government showing concerns for the need of immigrants’ integration and social inclusion. However, despite good results in terms of public policy making, Portugal still has many challenges concerning the implementation and guarantee of equality in access to the migrants’ social and fundamental rights.

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