‘No doubt over illegal immigration route to the Algarve’, says Border Service inspectors union
The union representing Portugal’s SEF inspectors considered this Wednesday that recent events over the past few months have demonstrated that there is an illegal immigration route to the Algarve, with Portugal serving as a gateway to wider green grass of Europe.
img decoding=”async” style=”margin-right: 10px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: left;” src=”http://algarvedailynews.com/images/news2/86migrant-route.jpg” alt=”86migrant route” width=”160″ height=”107″ />The union representing Portugal’s SEF inspectors considered this Wednesday that recent events over the past few months have demonstrated that there is an illegal immigration route to the Algarve, with Portugal serving as a gateway to wider green grass of Europe.
“The evidence is not denied and there is a reality here. There is a route and we are a destination,” said the president of the Union for Investigators and Inspection of the Foreigners and Borders Service (SCIF-SEF), after on Tuesday, a group of 21 migrants from Morocco arrived in the Algarve. In total, there are already 69 migrants who have illegally landed and been intercepted on the Algarve coast since December of 2019.
Acácio Pereira, the president of the union, stressed that at the moment he is certain that there is a route from Morocco, but that it could become a route from all of North Africa if not tackled appropriately. He explains that Portugal works “as a gateway” of immigration to Europe and that only a small number of migrants remain in the country, with the objective of being able to enter Europe through Portugal and then look for other destinations. An example of this situation, he said, are the cases of migrants who arrived in Portugal in recent months and, while waiting for the conclusion of their legal process, flee the country.
The union head representing SEF inspectors considered that “it is a lack of political clarity not to admit” that there is an illegal immigration route to the Algarve. “Things must be assumed and dealt with properly, this is the only way to resolve them,” he said, stressing that, “while Spain already has readmission and return agreements with Morocco”, Portugal is still in negotiations for a settlement agreement for illegal immigration with the country.
“These are two close countries and these issues should have been resolved a long time ago,” he said, noting that the SEF’s Integrated Surveillance Command and Control System (SIVIC) “never worked” and “never managed” to detect the five vessels that reached the coast of the Algarve over the past few months.
“In all situations, none of them were detected by radar. This is a shame, this shames the country, this shows the vulnerability of the coast”, he maintained. The official also said that the Foreigners and Borders Service has been able to give “an immediate response” to this week’s situation, but considered that Portugal is not prepared for these situations on the regular, especially when it comes to the monitoring of migrants while waiting for the conclusion of their legal process.
“Portugal does not have a single temporary installation center, except for the Santo António housing unit in Porto, where these people can wait,” he said. According to Pereira, these migrants are accommodated in the SEF centres at Faro and Porto airports, but these places are intended for illegal passengers on flights arriving in Portugal and staying for periods of up to 48 hours and not for detentions, which can reach 60 days. The union president said that the airport centres have “small” facilities, in addition to not having the conditions of security or dignity for these long-term stays.