Border vigilance to stay

Recent changes in strategy at the Algarve’s borders with Spain, involving spot-checks and mobile patrols, prevented the entry of more than 7,000 illegal immigrants during the Euro 2004 tournament. So successful was the strategy that border patrols and random checks could continue in a bid to prevent illegal immigration.

The south of the country, particularly the Algarve, has traditionally been seen as a ‘soft’ point of entry for illegal citizens into Portugal. According to a source from the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), a total of 7,333 foreigners were refused entry into Portugal during the tournament. The same source indicated that the main body of illegal immigration occurred in the south of the country. “It was there that most attempts at entry were recorded. And it is there that we will be able to bolster moveable border posts in the future.”

The SEF spokesman explained that it is not talking about repositioning frontiers or reinstating permanent controls. “It’s merely a response to the situation on the ground. If it is necessary, we are going to introduce more mobile controls, both in intensity and frequency, and introduce more specific targeting.” Those responsible for supervising Portugal’s frontiers stress that the measures taken will be within the spirit of the Schengen Accords and will only aim at curbing the cross-border criminal element. “Our objective is to avoid the entry of illegal immigrants in Portugal. Obviously, this is an action integrated into the fight against other types of criminality,” added a source from the SEF.

The absence of visas and the presentation of false identification were the SEF’s principal reasons for refusing entry into Portugal. Most of those denied entry into Portugal were Romanians, Moroccans and Brazilians.