Irregular migration from Brazil
Since opportunities for entering the USA were tightened up in the 1990s, many Brazilians try to enter the country illegally.
Initially they travel to Mexico as tourists and then cross the border into Texas in buses or on foot with the help of people smugglers. Many Brazilians pay sums of up to US$ 8,000 to Mexican or US American smugglers for this service. The number of Brazilians apprehended at the USA border was quantified in 2005 as up to 2000 a month.
There has also been an increase in irregular emigration to Europe, especially Portugal, in the last ten years. In 2003 during a state visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Portugal and Brazil negotiated a legalisation programme for Brazilians living illegally in Portugal, whereby some 30,000 were to be legalised within five years. This presupposed entry into the country after 2001 and a valid employment contract. Complicated bureaucracy and the migrants´ failure to possess the documents necessary for the process have meant that by 2008 only around two thirds have been legalised.
Illegal and irregular immigration
Regional irregular immigration is determined above all by two groups of immigrants: firstly, labour migrants, including those who do not have papers, migrate within the border areas between Brazil and its neighbouring states in the wake of the Mercosur agreement (cf. "Regional Migration"); and secondly the civil war-like conflict in Columbia drives around 2000 people a year across the borders into the north-western part of Brazil.
The number of Africans fleeing the civil war and war of independence in Angola (1975 to 2002) and entering Brazil irregularly was similarly high. At the beginning of the 1990s their number was estimated at over 15,000 (cf. Refugeeism and asylum).
In 1998, under the then President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the law governing illegal immigration (No. 7,685 of 1988) was amended by a new amnesty law (No. 9,675). During a period of 90 days in the same year, 40,000 foreigners received a temporary residence permit of up to two years with the option for extension by the same period through to achieving permanent residence status. The biggest groups to profit from this amnesty were Bolivians (approx. 14,000), Chinese (approx. 9,900) and Lebanese (approx. 3,100) followed by South Koreans, Peruvians, Uruguayans and Argentinians, each with a four-figure number. Although Africans probably make up the greatest proportion of irregular immigrants, only 435 persons from Angola (9th place) and 225 from Nigeria (in 13th place) profited from the amnesty.
Of all the countries in the world, Brazil is one that is worst affected by human trafficking. It is very frequently the country of origin of women and children who are sexually exploited. Women are enticed with false offers into other regions within the country, into neighbouring countries or to Western Europe, Japan, the United States and the Middle East, where they are forced into prostitution. There is a close association between the sex tourism in Brazil´s coastal cities and the trafficking of women. Children are also enslaved as domestic servants. Men are trafficked above all for agricultural work and forced to work in slavelike conditions in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso and Pará.
According to the US Department of State's annually published report on people trafficking, in 2006 close to 70,000 Brazilians were working as prostitutes abroad, many of them victims of people trafficking, and 25,000, mostly males, were working as forced labourers in Brazilian agriculture.
Prosecuting those involved in forced labour continues to be a major problem in combating people trafficking in Brazil. According to the law, trafficking in people for purposes of sexual exploitation carries a punishment of six to ten years' imprisonment. Similarly, forced labour is forbidden under the terms of the Brazilian constitution and can be penalised with confinement, but to date this has rarely been pursued.
Although in recent years the government has made increasing efforts to punish internal and international people-trafficking and take targeted action against forced labour, measures proclaimed by the Lula administration for eliminating slave labour and child prostitution are making only slow headway. In October 2006, President Lula da Silva had initiated and provided the relevant finances for a national plan of action against all forms of exploitation, including nationally coordinated measures to combat people trafficking. In 2006 there were more than 100 missions to remote areas along the Amazon River to uncover forced labour.