Minister “defends legalisation of Portugal’s illegal immigrants”

Borders agency SEF regularly gives papers to illegal immigrants, says Diário de Notícias. In fact, it is a policy that Minister for Internal Administration Constança Urbano de Sousa wholeheartedly supports, says the paper in a report that has since been refuted by the ministry, alleging it was “abusive” and taken out of context.

The wrangle hinges on interpretation of article 88, clause 2, in the Foreigners Law.

DN’s journalist did not put the question correctly, according to the ministry.

Instead of quizzing the minister on her opinion on the best interpretation of this law, the reporter concentrated on discovering whether or not Urbano de Sousa considered whether breaking it was a crime.

If the reporter had asked the question properly, said the ministry, the minister would have been able to answer that while article 88, clause 2, demands legal entry into Schengen as a stipulation for authorising residency, this cannot be presumed because under the terms of article 123 of the same law it is possible to legalise people who are working in Portugal – however they may have entered the country.

The statement sent out to newspapers early this morning is intended very possibly to spike focus on the issue, which elicited dire warnings from OSCOT, the Portuguese Observatory of Safety, Organised Crime and Terrorism.

But other aspects of DN’s story were not refuted – thus it has to be accepted that SEF has no data on how many ‘illegals’ it has authorised who may have arrived in Portugal “without complying with the principal requirement of the (Foreigners) law” which insists on legal entry to Schengen space.

DN quoted president of Portugal’s Observatory of Safety, Organised Crime and Terrorism (OSCOT) António Nunes, citing “the ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe”.

Without even alluding to the fact that one of the suspected terrorists rounded up by French authorities last month was a 26-year-old Moroccan granted political asylum in Portugal in 2014 (click here), Nunes told DN that now is the time for “all countries to be rigorous in the concession of residency authorisations to immigrants who afterwards can freely circulate throughout Schengen space”.

Nunes maintained he could not understand Urbano de Sousa’s position, and that in his opinion it “could weaken confidence in Portugal”.

“It could have very serious consequences”, he added, as there would “no longer be control over the entry of immigrants, with the risk that some might come in who have already committed crimes, or who are connected to terrorist groups”.

The institute of internal administration and the attorney general’s office are still “evaluating whether there is any material for disciplinary or criminal prosecution”, wrote DN in a text placed online in the early hours of Monday morning – but the truth is this is a news story about a persisting policy at SEF that has major implications.

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