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Why AIMA Isn't Working Quickly Enough

Understanding the Slow Progress of AIMA's Functioning" - This article delves into the reasons behind the delayed efficiency of the Agency for Integration, Migrations, and Asylum (AIMA) and explores the factors contributing to its slower-than-expected performance.

AIMA Portal

Immigrants in Portugal are anxious about the establishment of the Agency for Integration, Migrations, and Asylum (AIMA). They express concerns about unclear processes, lack of transparency, and the potential rise in bureaucratic procedures. The launch of the Agency for Integration, Migrations, and Asylum (AIMA) in Portugal is causing concern among immigrants. They worry about unclear processes and the possibility of more complicated paperwork.


Ravi, a Pakistani immigrant, expressed surprise, saying, "The SEF won't handle my papers anymore? But I went to the SEF." He began his process in January and found a peaceful environment to work on his paperwork in Lisbon's Martim Moniz area.


The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) use to manages residence permits, a process that can take years for immigrants to complete in Portugal. Despite being allowed to work and receive benefits, individuals in irregular situations might still face restrictions, like being unable to leave the country.


"I'm already paying taxes and contributing like the Portuguese. I just need a visa," laments Marielle Santos, a Brazilian citizen who has been waiting for two years to complete the process. Employed at a café near the Saldanha area, Marielle worries about losing her job.


"I'm just two months away from qualifying for unemployment benefits, but my boss plans to sell the café. What will I do? What's going to happen to me?" she expresses, unaware that a new agency has replaced the SEF.


Portugal currently has "almost 300 thousand pending cases at the SEF," and with the introduction of the new AIMA, Alam Kazoi, the leader of the Bangladesh Community Association of Porto, is concerned about potential issues and increased bureaucracy. He fears problems as judicial investigations will now fall under the police's jurisdiction, a task the new agency isn't equipped for.

Kazoi anticipates a scenario where part of the process will reside with the agency, and another part with the police, making it more complex and bureaucratic. He estimates about 50 thousand Bangladeshi citizens are in Portugal, many still awaiting visas.

"We're very worried because many foreigners are waiting for their turn, and the SEF is unable to keep up," he explains. Kazoi emphasizes that despite the influx of immigrants registering daily, the system is overwhelmed. This leads to extensive waiting lists, with appointments being sold on the black market for 100 to 150 euros at the SEF. Amadou Diallo, leader of the Association to Support Immigrants and Refugees in Portugal (APIRP), expresses frustration over the lack of information provided to partners regarding the creation of the new agency.


"I can't offer much comment because I'm poorly informed," states Diallo, a member of the Migration Council.


Diallo highlights that the SEF has been criticized multiple times for persistent delays that remain unresolved. He believes the issue isn't solely the institution's name but rather the shortage of human resources...


As an Ivorian refugee in Portugal for over 15 years, Diallo established APIRP due to a perceived lack of state response. He advocates for legal reforms aimed at simplifying life for immigrants and refugees in Portugal.


Diallo emphasizes the challenges faced, noting instances where the SEF takes over a year to provide necessary documentation despite immigrants already working and contributing to the Portuguese State.


Apart from its administrative roles, the SEF's law enforcement powers will shift to the PSP, GNR, and PJ. Additionally, a new setup for Portugal's border control system is expected with the establishment of the Borders and Foreigners Coordination Unit, overseen by the Secretary General of the Internal Security System.


Alam Kazoi warns that this split within the SEF created chaos. He criticizes the defunct body for leaving pending cases unresolved, expressing that this restructuring would only be justified if starting afresh, but instead, it seems to reset from less than ground zero.


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