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Posted by nelson on August 10, 2017

Border controls agency SEF is in uproar over changes to the immigration law powered by the Socialist government’s left-wing allies Bloco de Esquerda and the PCP communist party.

The embattled State entity - due to go on strike later this month over staffing issues - believes the changes carry “inherent risks” to the country’s safety as the modified law now makes it impossible to expel immigrants who have committed crimes (“for example murders, robberies and drug-trafficking”, explains Diário de Notícias).

Retaliating in the only way it knows how, SEF has ‘suspended’ the online service that immigrants would use to fast-track new residency applications.

Meantime, the controversy is being kicked around the political playing field by MPs who are not otherwise sunning themselves on the country’s beaches.

In a feisty opinion article in Jornal i this morning, Bloco de Esquerda’s Joana Mortágua, sister of the party’s financial policy firebrand Mariana, claims the new rules “eliminate SEF’s discretion” (ability to interpret immigration laws).

“It is not perfect, but it’s a step”, she says towards “protecting the worker, and not subjecting him/her to an illegal third party”.

Essentially, the legal changes allow immigrants to apply for residency on the “promise of a work contract” and not on the actual existence of one, which Mortágua maintains was an “absurdity”, landing many in the laps of modernday slave-traders.

Opposition MPs however, see SEF’s point of view - as set out in another opinion article this morning in the much more widely-read Correio da Manhã.

PSD MP Luís Campos Ferreira does not mince his words. He guarantees that the changes to Portugal’s immigration law will make the country “a protecting space for international crime”.

“This is not alarmism or exaggeration”, he stresses. “It is simply one of the possible effects of the law that the Left has approved… From now on, all that is needed is the promise of a work contract...If the promise is real or fictitious, it doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter what the motivation for entering the country may be”.

Recalling that only this year Portugal was deemed the third safest country in the world (click here) “a detail that is one of the best accolades any country can have” and one that is “essential” to our progress, the Left’s new ‘law’ could, in Campos Ferreira’s opinion, destroy this “jewel in our crown”.

Who must now navigate the icebergs of this furore is Minister for Internal Administration Constança Urbano de Sousa, the woman who already has her hands full with the ‘fallout’ of the State’s response to the deadly fires that killed 65 people in Pedrógão Grande in June (see separate story), among many other pressing issues with the rest of the country’s police forces.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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