‘Country needs immigrant workers’ – interior minister

  • Lusa
  • 27 September 2021

"Portugal, a country marked by ageing, as indicated by the latest census, needs migrant workers," stated the Minister of the Interior, Eduardo Cabrita.

The Minister of the Interior considered on Monday that Portugal needs immigrants and that in the coming decades it should prioritise “legal, safe and orderly migration mechanisms” so that the rights to health, housing and work are guaranteed.

“Portugal, a country marked by ageing, as indicated by the latest census, needs migrant workers. That is why it should favour legal, safe and orderly migration mechanisms as a way to ensure respect for human rights in such different areas as the right to health, to decent housing and the right to fair labour relations”, said Eduardo Cabrita, at the opening session of the international conference on Forced Returns and Human Rights, organised by the Inspectorate General of the Interior (IGAI).

Cabrita said that legal migration is “a priority” that forces Portugal “to be inflexible in what is the management of common European borders and the fight against criminal groups that live from extreme human fragility”.

In this sense, he specified that trafficking in human beings must be “fought on a national scale and articulated on a European scale”, highlighting the new mandate of the European border control agency Frontex, the “first European force with its own operational means” and which should have up to 10,000 staff in 2027.

Eduardo Cabrita also said that Europe should “look at the management of migratory flows in a coordinated, coherent and above all prepared way”, taking into account the humanitarian dimension due to recent events in Afghanistan.

At the conference, the minister stressed the changes registered in Portugal, which in recent decades has become “a country that receives foreign citizens from multiple origins”.

“Portugal 30 years ago had less than 100,000 foreign citizens, in times of pandemic it reached about 680,000 legally resident foreign citizens by the end of 2020,” he stressed.

According to Eduardo Cabrita, more than half a million foreign citizens have acquired Portuguese nationality since 2007, when the nationality law underwent significant changes.

“Since then, the number of acquisitions of Portuguese nationality has risen from around five thousand per year to over 50 thousand per year,” he said, stressing that the returns to the countries of origin of migrants who arrive in Portugal illegally should be done with “respect for human dignity”.

In her speech, the Inspector General of Internal Administration, Anabela Cabral Ferreira, said that support for forced returns is a strategic area of the IGAI.

“Since 2015, IGAI is the entity that monitors forced returns in Portugal. This is an area that deserves growing and permanent attention, due to the vulnerability of the human beings who arrive in Portugal and who wish to remain in the country,” she said.