Portugal stands as a rarity in a world where populism and nationalism is on the rise, with the Portuguese Government celebrating the news that immigration has increased.
Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita said in Portuguese Parliament last week that 580,000 foreign nationals call Portugal home as of the end of 2019, an almost 100,000 increase since 2018.
Portugal stands out because the political climate in the UK, and its significant ally America, aims to reduce immigration at all costs. The impending implementation of a tougher points-based immigration system for all after Brexit boasts being unnecessarily strict: the UK already has a PBS – and one of the toughest immigration procedures in the world at that.
Portugal’s revelry in increased immigration, and creating an environment that welcomes migrants, is refreshing.
In a completely different approach, Portugal has been aiming to boost its immigration numbers since 2017 when legislation was introduced by Prime Minister António Costa.
Costa said: “We need more immigration and we won’t tolerate any xenophobic rhetoric”.
It is unfathomable to think of Boris Johnson or Home Secretary Priti Patel using language akin to Costa’s. They speak of “necessary” immigration, calling for very specific types of migrants, but it is the Conservative Government and its allies that enact and promote xenophobia in Britain. It is well documented; from the treatment of child refugees, the closure and gentrification of Latin American communities, to the existing hostile environment that captures, deports and creates an unwelcoming atmosphere for migrants and refugees. Time and time again, migrants are telling us the UK is an inhospitable place that is rife with hate crime and hostility.
In the changes, Portugal has streamlined its immigration processes to make obtaining a visa much easier. It confirmed a 50% income tax cut until 2023 for Portuguese nationals who have been absent from their home country for at least three years in hopes to entice citizens back to their country of origin.
The Socialist Party was re-elected in 2019, increasing its representation by 22 more seats in Government. A minority administration, support from the Portuguese Communist Party and radical Left Bloc assist in the governing of the country. Since being in Government, the Socialist Party has overseen economic growth, a drop in unemployment and a budget deficit which is now close to zero.
Labour MP and candidate standing for leader in the upcoming Labour leadership election, Jess Phillips, recently wrote about how immigration has always been a part of British history, including its triumphs. Phillips references the heartache those caught in the immigration process have faced, stating: “setting arbitrary [immigration] targets, as the Tories have done, dehumanises people.”
Phillips references the heartache those caught in the immigration process have faced, stating: “setting arbitrary [immigration] targets, as the Tories have done, dehumanises people.”
Mr. Costa’s promise to welcome immigrants to Portugal was driven by factors such as a below-average birth rate and ageing population. Emigration was significantly high between 2011 and 2016 due to the financial problems Portugal was facing and the imposition of austerity.
Portugal’s revelry in increased immigration, and creating an environment that welcomes migrants, is refreshing. As the Portuguese Government continues to meet its goals, economic and otherwise, they provide a glimmer of promise for the success of socialism. In a world where conservativism and capitalism appear to be running free and without restraint, growing in arrogance by the day, Costa and his party’s open arms and rejection of division is inspiring.