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Controversial Immigration Policy in Brazil Essay

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Updated: Mar 22nd, 2020


Immigration policy is one of the greatest issues that have raised debates in Brazilian society. According to Giralda, Brazil is one of the emerging economic giants in Latin America. The large population of the country and its political stability has resulted in massive economic growth over the past few decades. The economic prosperity and the perceived employment opportunities have seen people from the neighboring countries and other regions across the world come to Brazil in search of employment.

Some of these immigrants come to the country illegally, but others find their way into the country illegally. The problem of illegal immigration raised a hot debate as the government struggled to find the best way of addressing it. In 2009, the government came up with an amnesty for the illegal immigrants that allowed them to present themselves to the immigration offices within the country to be registered as legal immigrants in the country.

While a section of the society considered this a positive move towards addressing the problem, others have vehemently rejected this policy, claiming that it will motivate more people to immigrate to this country illegally. In this essay, the researcher seeks to prove that the policy was ill-informed and may have a serious negative impact on the issue of illegal immigration into the country.


The immigration policy in Brazil has experienced changes over the years due to several factors. According to Una, Brazil developed a policy in the 1950s that encouraged immigration as a way of increasing its population. During this time, the government was concerned about the dwindling population in the country due to its low birthrate. This policy resulted in the mass flow of people from all over the world, making the country one of the most diversified places on earth.

In 1999, the government redefined the policy, introducing some requirements as a way of controlling immigration. The immigration policy was tightened in 2007, specifically stating stringent requirements for one to immigrate into the country. This did not eliminate immigration into the country. Many people, especially from neighboring countries such as Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia have been streaming into the country illegally through the porous borders.

According to Hing, it is estimated that about 1,500 illegal immigrants get through the borders into the country illegally. The scholar says that in Sao Paulo alone, there are over 200,000 undocumented Bolivian workers. The increasing human development index in Brazil has seen people immigrate into the country from as far as China. The government became concerned about the increasing number of illegal immigrants into the country.

According to Lloyd, the issue of illegal immigration had caused public concern because of several reasons. Some of these illegal immigrants were involved in criminal acts within the country. It was difficult for the government to trace their records, the fact that reduced government’s capacity to combat crime. These illegal immigrants were also using public facilities such as hospitals, schools, and other social amenities that were planned to support a smaller population.

The decision to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants was seen as the best way of addressing these problems. A section of the society feels that this move would help combat cases of crime within the country. When the government has all the records of people living within the country, it will be easy to trace them once they are suspected to be engaging in illegal activities.

The proponents of this policy also argue that this move will help in reducing the pressure exerted on public facilities such as hospitals, schools, and other social amenities. The government will have an accurate number of people within the country, and this will make the process of planning more efficient than it is currently. Through this, the government will be in a better position to address various economic and social concerns that are affecting the public.

This policy has received equally strong opposition across society. According to Holston, every policy that the government makes sets a precedent. If the policy is good and it helps the people of this country, then the precedent set will be good. However, if it gives a loophole that can be exploited by people with selfish interests, then it may have serious repercussions on this society. Offering amnesty to the current illegal immigrant in Brazil does not stop other people from immigrating into this country.

In fact, it will motivate them to come because they will be assured of the amnesty. If the amnesty is offered today, it strongly suggests that it will also be offered tomorrow. This will motivate people from all over the world, especially those in the underdeveloped economies, to immigrate into Brazil illegally. The current problems that society faces because of illegal immigration will still be seen tomorrow. This means that the current justification of this policy by its proponents will be defeated.

According to Trahan, the government has been struggling with the issue of illegal immigration into the country for a long time. It was the right time for the government to demonstrate to the entire world that it will not tolerate illegal immigration into the country. The government was expected to develop policies that will protect the Brazilian borders in order to reduce cases of illegal immigration into the country.

To those who illegally immigrated into the country, the government should have developed some measures that will be considered punitive. This may involve deporting them back to their countries or subjective them to a more expensive registration process before they can be allowed to continue working in the country.

This move will send a message to others who intend to come to the country illegally that they may face stiff penalties. This is the only way that the government can use to curb the problem of illegal immigration. The recent policy that offers them amnesty will only popularize this vice, making it difficult to combat it.


The controversial immigration policy that was set by the Brazilian government has sparked public debate. While proponents of this policy believe that it is the best way that the government can deal with some of the social vices in the society, others argue that this move will only make them complicated.

Although it is true that the amnesty will help document illegal workers in this country, its long-term effect may have negative consequences. This amnesty will only motivate other people to come to this country illegally hoping that they will also get amnesty. This will, consequently, compound the current problems.

Works Cited

Giralda, Seyferth. “The Slave Plantation and Foreign Colonization in Imperial Brazil.” Journal of Political Science 34.4 (2011): 339-387.

Hing, Bill. “Misusing Immigration Policies in the Name of Homeland Security.” The New Centennial Review 6.1 (2009), 195-224.

Holston, James. Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

Lloyd, Richmond. American Foreign Policy: Regional Perspectives. Newport: Naval War College, 2009.

Marquez, Timothy. “Hispanic Population Growth and State Immigration Policy: An Analysis of Restriction (2008–12).” The Annual Review of Federalism 43.3 (2013), 347-367.

Sanchez, Blanca. “Making sense of immigration policy: Latin America.” The Economic History Review 66.2 (2013): 601-627.

Trahan, Francois. The Era of Uncertainty: Global Investment Strategies for Inflation, Deflation, and the Middle Ground. Hoboken: J. Wiley, 2011.

Una, Newton. “State Immigration Policies: Innovation: Cooperation or Conflict?” Journal of Economics 39.3 (2009): 408-431.

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