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Government Plans To Cut Non-EU Immigration

GOVERNMENT PLANS TO CUT NON-EU IMMIGRATION UnpublishedPortugal’s new government has announced a plan to restrict immigration for non-European Union citizens. Until now, under previous Socialist administrations, the arrangements have been very open.

The announcement came just days before the European Union elections in which immigration will be one of the hottest topics across the whole 27-member states.

Portugal’s Prime Minister Luis Montenegro aims to put an end to a liberal arrangement whereby immigrants could move into Portugal without an employment contract, and only request a residency permit after a year of social security payments. The change will mean that non-EU citizens will no longer be allowed to “abuse” the system. They will need an employment contract to stay here.

The foreign population in Portugal has doubled in the last five years A million or so people from abroad – roughly a tenth of Portugal’s total population – are now living in this country. Last year, 189,000 immigrants were legally accepted. Many Asian immigrants have found jobs on farms or in restaurants. Around 400,000 immigrant applications are currently pending, according to Montenegro.

“We need people in Portugal willing to help us build a fairer and more prosperous society,” he said this week. “But we cannot go to the other extreme and have wide-open doors.”

Entry of qualified professionals, students, people from Portuguese-speaking countries, and people seeking family reunions will be prioritised.

The move by Montenegro’s centre-right government is still too weak, according to the far-right Chega (Enough) party. Its founder and leader, Andre Ventura, has expressed strong opposition to the presence of non-EU immigrants, particularly from Islamic countries. Similar attitudes are shared by far-right parties across the continent, especially in Germany, where immigrants used to be welcomed before the height of the immigration crisis triggered by Syria’s civil war in 2015, and Italy, the favoured entry point nowadays for immigrants illegally crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

The EU has already approved a pact that will see hardened borders and shared responsibilities among member states. EU economy ministers officially signed the landmark Migration and Asylum pact last month. It ended eight years of work to rewrite the rule book for people entering the Europe without authorisation. The majority of members backed the 10 pieces of legislation in the agreement. Hungary and Poland opposed it as they have long rejected the idea that all European countries should take in a share of arriving immigrants.

The new rules will only come into effect in 2026. They lay out the process for screening people to establish whether they qualify for some kind of asylum protection, or should be deported.

Written by Len Port

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