Covid-19 crisis: migrants struggle to access rights in Brazil

Organizations point to emergency regularization as a measure to reduce vulnerabilities

Given the difficulties faced by migrants on account of the pandemic caused by Covid-19, specialized organizations that are active in the field of Migration Law and International Refugee Law have sent a letter urging members of Congress to understand the need for the emergency regularization of migrants.

The emergency is addressed in Bill No. 2699/2020 – which proposes to grant residency for humanitarian purposes to irregular migrants in the country, as a result of the ‘state of public calamity’ and its serious socioeconomic impacts. In the context of the pandemic, undocumented migrants in Brazil represent one of the population groups that has been hardest hit by the crisis. 

As a result of the pandemic, the bill also requires the Executive Branch to instruct the country’s public services to accept documentation presented by migrants. This is based on the fact that their immigration status is irrelevant in the face of something that can meet their needs and rights. 

The text of the bill states that migrants, asylum seekers and refugees should have urgent access to the SUS public health system and to the emergency income assistance paid by the federal bank Caixa Econômica Federal. For these payments, the bank should accept documentation from the migrant’s country of origin or an expired Brazilian document, which in practice, according to the letter from the organizations, it has not been done.

Because of these and other difficulties, the approval of Bill 2699/2020 is considered essential by the organizations representing migrants in Brazil. Based on this, they have decided to create the campaign #RegularizaçãoJá (#RegularizationNow) – counting on the participation of migrants to use the hashtag on their social networks.

The bill was presented by Congresswoman Fernanda Melchionna on May 15. In the letter, the organizations list the reasons why it should be approved as quickly as possible. And they emphasize that this is the only way for Brazil to assume its international treaty commitments.

>>>> Read the letter in full here

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