By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The government of Brazil signed this week an authorization which gives more than 43,000 Haitian permanent residency in Brazil. According to the authorities, the majority of these immigrants have entered the country through Brazil’s Northern border and do not qualify for refugee status.

Haitian immigrants in the Northern state of Acre, boarding bus to Southeastern Brazil,
Haitian immigrants in the Northern state of Acre, boarding bus to Southeastern Brazil, photo by Marcello Casal/Agencia Brasil.

“This authorization allows them to obtain their foreign residency card,” said Labor Minister, Miguel Rossetto, adding that now these new residents would be able to obtain formal jobs and take advantage of social programs available to residents.

According to Justice Minister, José Eduardo Cardozo, the authorization does not mean these Haitian immigrants will be granted Brazilian citizenship, but rather obtain permanent residency in the country.

“This authorization is very important because it goes beyond a temporary visa and renders a definite perspective (to Haitians), so that they may have all the rights a foreigner residing in Brazil has,” said Cardozo during a press conference.

In May the Brazilian federal government suspended the transportation of Haitian immigrants from the Northern state of Acre, where the majority of the immigrants enter Brazil, to São Paulo City until a new plan for the relocation of these refugees was drafted. São Paulo City mayor, Fernando Haddad, complained that city officials and agencies were overwhelmed by the number of busses arriving from the Northern region carrying Haitian immigrants.

In October the government’s National Immigration Council extended the deadline for Haitian requesting humanitarian visas until October of 2016. Until July 2015 the country had issued more than twenty-six thousand humanitarian visas to Haitian immigrants.

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