June 23. 2024. 1:45

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Portugal gets new minorities and migration body

A new Agency for Minorities, Migration and Asylum will replace the Foreigners and Immigration Service (SEF) as well as the High Commission for Migration, the cabinet decided on Thursday.

“The cabinet approved today the creation of the Portuguese Agency for Minorities, Migration and Asylum (APMMA), which will succeed the Foreigners and Immigration Service (SEF) and the High Commission for Migration in matters of reception and migration,” the minister of the presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva announced Thursday.

At the cabinet meeting, ministers also approved the decree-law that will regulate the transition regime of SEF workers, which according to Vieira da Silva, seeks to safeguard workers’ rights, “career transitions and remuneratory repositioning”.

Regarding the new agency, for which a six-month transition period is planned, Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Ana Catarina Mendes explained that its creation represents a paradigm shift in migration policy in Portugal.

“Definitively, it separates from this policy the police on one side – who will have their jobs – and what should be a vision of reception and integration policy in this new agency,” she added.

For this reason, the APMMA will be part of the High Commissioner for Migrations to ensure faster admission and better reception of migrants.

“The agency also has the competencies of humanitarian protection and responsibilities in asylum policy, in the definition and approximation of migration policies at a European level,” Mendes added, insisting that the change translates to “a more humanist vision, more solidarity and more agility for those who arrive here.

“Many of the SEF offices will continue to be attached to the agency so that there is proximity throughout the territory,” she said.

Mendes also explained that with the integration of the High Commissariat of Migration in APMMA, the “Choices Programme”, to combat juvenile delinquency and social exclusion of children and youths will pass to the Portuguese Institute of Youth.

The previous government decided the restructuring of SEF and approved in parliament in November 2021 after being postponed twice.

The process was postponed in November of that year, until May 2022, due to the pandemic, following a proposal from PS, and postponed again by the current government at the end of April 2022.

(Mariana Caeiro | Lusa.pt)