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The Political Economy of Migration from Brazil to the US. Research Paper.

7 pages
1798 words
Middlebury College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Historically a nation whose people have seldom emigrated, Brazil did not experience consistent and substantial outflow until the 1980s. Majority of the Brazilian immigrants to the US have pointed out same economic reasons for leaving Brazil to go the United States for better prosperity. This has been despite the real risks involving the journey to the United States and the possibility of detention and deportation. The term that has been used in the description of this immigration phenomenon has been economic refugees. These immigrants from Brazil come into the United States looking for higher wages, lower cost of living and the need to escape the hyperinflation that has locked the country up until 1994 (Baptista & Rigotti, 2017). Despite the recovery after 1994 and the reduction on inflation and the stabilization of prices for goods and services, most Brazilians in the low-class and middle class have experienced loss of third of their salaries purchasing power. Many immigrants have migrated to the United States with the knowledge they can earn up to four times what they earned in Brazil. The possibility of a better life and increasing earning can be cited as the best reason Brazilians migrate to the United States. The years between 1985 and 1987 was the period that saw the greatest immigration of Brazilians to the United States. This was the period of great inflation, and the immigration to the United States was a response (Baptista & Rigotti, 2017). Records have shown that most of the Brazilians move to the United States through tourist visa and they overstay their visas making them considered illegal or undocumented. However, there has been increasing inability to obtain tourist visas which have led to growth in popularity of illegally entering the United States through the Mexico border. The United States government also imposed stricter immigration measures in 2001 and made it difficult to for them to work without the possession of legal papers.

Factors Driving Brazilians Migration to the United States despite the Associated Risks

The migration of Brazilians into the United States was not significant until the past few decades. The growth in this migration was widely noticed in the early 1980s, and the driving factors included partly series of Brazilian economic crisis. The immigration of Brazilian population in the United States was recorded to have doubled during the 1980s, and then by the 1990s, it tripled. Later there was stabilization after the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. In 2014, the Brazilian immigrants in the US were approximated to be 336,000 which was a representation of 1% of the 42.4 million immigrants in the US (Brazilian Immigrants, 2017). According to approximations by the Migration Policy Institute, a fifth to a third of the immigrants in the US are illegal immigrants. The nature of Brazilian migration in the US have been shaped by the economic and social conditions in Brazil in addition to the changes in the United States immigration policy. In the 1980s, Brazilian immigrants used tourist visas to gain entry into the United States and other overstayed and worked before going back to their country. After the depletion of finances and savings immigrants would return to work again in the United States a pattern that was referred to as the "yo-yo" migration (Brazilian Immigrants, 2017). There were changes in the 1990s when policymakers in the United States made stringent measures that tightened the acquisition of tourist visas by Brazilians citizens. The institution of Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of the 1990s ensures it would be impossible for Brazilians that has illegally resided in the US to reenter using legal means (Brazilian Immigrants, 2017). These variations have complicated the cyclical immigration patterns between Brazil and United States (Chu 2005). The Brazilians that were already situated in the United States illegally stayed longer while those trying to enter the United States are increasingly using the United States-Mexico border illegally.

The Economic and political instability which was experienced in Brazil in the late twentieth century resulted in the unprecedented emigration from Brazil. It is explained that approximately one million Brazilians moved to the United States and most of them were employed in the service industry in southern Florida, California and the Northeastern metropolitan areas (Chu 2005). The highest immigration rates were witnessed in the 1980s while they sought economic opportunity and running away from social decay (Brazilians in the U.S. n.d.). Brazil experienced hyperinflation during the decade that negatively affected the economy leading to increased unemployment rates. Also, there an authoritarian military leadership which was a replacement for the democratic civilian government. This is the main factors that prompted the increased migration to the United States by Brazilians. There were approximately two millions Brazilians who moved to Europe and the United States which was more than 1% of the national population.

Detainment and Deportation of Brazilian Refugees in the United States

There had been an agreement between Mexico and Brazil to have a five-year deal in which there would allowance for Brazilians to enter the country without applying for visas. This strategy was thought to promote tourism and business between two nations. However, this decision led to increased illegal immigration into the United States. The Brazilians that entered the United States used Mexico as an entry point. With time, the Brazilians have developed to be the largest and fastest-growing form of illegal immigrants in the US. The immigrants usually enter surreptitiously into the US after easy accessibility and entry in the Mexico. Brazilians that have been detained at the United States-Mexico in the past twelve months ending September 10th 2006 was more than double the number that was recorded in 2005 (Zong, & Batalova, 2016). From almost zero records a decade ago, illegal Brazilian migrants detained in the United States will be more than 30,000 in the year 2006. As a sender of undocumented migrants in the United States, Brazil only ranks behind Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador. There has been increasing concerns concern about the Mexico's non-visa policy which has impacted on the illegal migrants. However, in 2006 Mexico has a change in policy in which Brazilians must have visas to gain entry in Mexico. As explained by Mexican immigration officials, the Brazilians who have been denied entry in Mexico account to the almost two-thirds of the total number. This saw 6,450 Brazilians denied entry into Mexico by half of the year 2006 (Brazilian Immigrants, 2017). Brazilians and non-Mexican migrants have been exploiting the US policy to ensure they avoid being deported or detained in the United States. Illegal immigrants who are not of the Mexican origin can request a hearing and released if they do not have a criminal record.

A report that was conducted and that focused on Massachusetts showed that the Greater Boston had the largest Brazilian population United States. It was also established that approximately 71 percent of Brazilians residing in the United States are illegal immigrants. Other studies have shown approximately more than half of the Mexican community in the United States are illegal immigrants. Due to various policy changes, most Brazilians have been using the United States-Mexico border. There has been a dramatic increase in the detainment of Brazilians at the border. This can be seen through the 88 apprehensions that were recorded in the fiscal year 1992 as compared to 32,103 apprehensions recorded in the fiscal year 2005. This increment meant that Brazilians citizens were the fourth most apprehended in the fiscal year 2055 only after Mexicans, Honduran, and Salvadoran immigrants. However, there was a slight decrement from October 2005 when there was a change in policy by the Mexican leadership required Brazilians to obtain travel visas to gain entrance into Mexico (Brazilian Immigrants, 2017). In the fiscal year 2006, the number of Brazilians detained at the border was recorded are no more than 3,000 and this figure was maintained at that level. However, there has been increased annual legal immigration from Brazil. This number increased from 5,000 immigrants in the fiscal year 1992 to a number that is more than 16,000 in the 2005 fiscal year. There was a further slight decrement to ten thousand in the fiscal year 2014 (Amaral & Fusc, 2005). The number of Brazilian application for visas that were denied increased from 5.3% in 2015 to 16.7% in 2016. Additionally, the number of Brazilian apprehensions increased from 1,434 in 2015 to 3,251 in 2016. As pointed out by Brazil's Ambassador to the United States, Sergio Amaral, there are approximately 1.4 million Brazilians in the United States. From this number, only a 10percent can be considered illegal (Amaral & Fusc, 2005).

In the recent years, there have developments that have witnessed a substantial movement of immigrants returning to Brazil. Some factors that have seen these developments include economic recession in the US, the tightened United States immigration policies and the enhanced Brazilian economic prospects (Menino, 2009). Most of these immigrants going back to country are the undocumented or those in the low-skilled occupations. It is also important to note that the Brazilian internationals studying in the US have more than triple with a record 7,000 in 2005 as compared to 24,000 in the year 2015. The contributing factor has been the improved investment by the Brazilian authorities in international scholarships.

Returning Migration to Brazil from the United States

Factors concerning migration and mobility have historically contributed to the socio-economic development of a nation. Return migration has been an event witnessed in the recent decades. Dependent on the local conditions, there two choices for immigrants which include remaining in the immigration location or returning to their society a concept referred to as reinsertion. According to research, the 1980s were a time in which there were changes in the history of Brazilian migration. The phenomena of return migration can be described as the main issue facing Brazil in the past few decades. Some of the regions in Brazil that have contributed to migration include Minas Gerais and the Northeast (Glusing, 2010). However, there these areas have demonstrated a recovery trend of the emigrant population. For some time, the Brazilian economy has been strengthening providing more job opportunities and low cost of leaving. This has led to return of immigrants from the United States back to Brazil. For instance, from the 1980s and the 2000s areas such as Minas Gerais have seen an increase in the proportion of native Mineiros (Glusing, 2010).

A report has shown that many illegal Brazilian immigrants have been leaving the United States and going back to Brazil. Some of the major contributing factors to this phenomenon include tightened laws preventing illegal immigrants, tougher housing laws, raids, reduced jobs and the US dollar has been weakening with time. According to estimates, there has been a reduction in Brazilians residing in Connecticut and Rhode Island both legally and illegally (Glusing, 2010). Records have shown 60,000 to 70,000 Brazilians have reduced to approximately 40,000.

The Crisis that is Forcing Brazilians to Return

There is huge possibility that no city in Brazil has witnessed many illegal immigrants moving to the United States than Valadares (Glusing, 2010). However, many of these are returning home. The United States has been experiencing one of the...

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