The majority of foreigners seeking to work in Brazil tend to have little education, and come principally from Bolivia, China, and Paraguay. However, the number of immigrants hailing from countries suffering a humanitarian crisis is growing. Brazil is seeing more immigrants coming from Haiti, Syria, and West Africa.
Just days ago, Brazil’s federal police raided an international criminal organization that had trafficked workers from Bangladesh and other Asian countries. The immigrants were subjected to working conditions likened to slavery on construction projects and frozen food preparation. Stories like these are becoming common in Brazil since traffickers and illegal immigrants see opportunity in the country’s current economic boom.
Since 2010, the number of asylum requests has tripled, many of which are instigated by human traffickers. In April of this year, the government of Acre – a state in Brazil’s Amazonian region, decreed a social emergency due to the influx of Haitians entering by way of the country’s borders with Peru and Bolivia. Brought in by traffickers, sometimes known as “coyotes”, Haitians and other illegal immigrants are flocking to small cities in Brazil’s interior that are poorly equipped to attend to their needs.
Brazil’s national government has responded by sending a task force to border communities in Acre, bringing food, medical assistance and vaccinations for immigrants. Some 1,350 Haitians are to be given visas on humanitarian grounds.
According to Brazil’s Ministry of Justice, another 4,000 Haitians entered Brazil in 2011, which was the year that followed the devastating earthquake in the island republic that has caused so much misery.
The foreign affairs ministry of Brazil held a meeting last week in Brasilia with representatives from Haiti, Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, in order to discuss border control measures, as well as share intelligence. The director for immigration affairs at the foreign ministry, Rodrigo do Amaral Souza, told local media he is focused on arresting traffickers, and to address the visa status of not only Haitians, but also immigrants coming from Senegal, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Burma, through Brazil’s northern border region. According to Souza, the uptick in immigration was first notable in 2010 but has increased significantly in the last few months with the influx of Haitians.