Updated 09:05 PM EDT, Mon, Oct 14, 2019

Haitian Migrants in Brazil Treated Poorly Due to Lack of Public Policy?

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In November 2015, the Brazilian government announced that it will grant permanent residency to over 43,000 Haitian immigrants. TeleSur TV noted that back then, Brazilian Minister of Labor Miguel Rossetto said, "This act establishes a period of up to a year for them to request foreign resident identification documents. Those who are formally accepted by Brazil will be granted stability and security."

A large number of Haitians moved to the country when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed over 230,000 people and left more than one million displaced. Years later, the effectivity of the act will grant them the right to live and work legally in Brazil, which is a welcome change for the immigrants.

However, it seems the act is only good on paper. The Huffington Post said that the migrants weren't able to find a warm welcome in the country, saying that the government is promoting foreign policy, but there is no public policy available for them.

For instance, 26-year-old Alex Mustivas was offered only $70 by his employer in Brazil when he was injured on the job. He was also told to take the money if he wants it, and not to take it if he doesn't. Mustivas refused the amount, saying that his life is worth more than the $70 offered.

Professor Glaucia Assis of the Center for Migration Observation in Santa Catarina said that the Ministry of Labor and Employment already lists Haitians as the largest presence in Santa Catarina's formal market in 2013, with around 7,000 living in the state. However, the increased presence came because most of them were able to find work before the crisis ate up Brazil's economy.

She added, "immigrants, once they are established and find work, tend to pass that information to their friends and relatives, who are more likely to go to a place where they know someone who is established and can help them find employment and housing."

Difference in culture is also a major barrier when it comes to welcoming Haitians. Assis explained that when an immigrant comes from a poorer country and is black, the image given to them -- even in a country that opens their borders to immigrants -- is almost always unwelcoming.

"Haitians are affected by racism in various everyday situations, like when they take a bus, and in gaining access to the labor market and to public services."

What do you think of Brazil's policies welcoming but not protecting Haitian immigrants in their country?

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