March 4, 2010

2,000 Deportees a Year in Goias – 1,000 from Europe and 1,000 from the US

After meeting with Elie Chidiac, the head of the state department of the State of Goiás, on Wednesday, I feel as though my research is actually getting underway. Our meeting was very informative.

I arrived just before 4pm for our scheduled meeting, and one of Mr. Chidiac’s receptionists asked me to wait just a few minutes, as he was in a meeting and would be out shortly. As I waited, I took note of the office – four tables, two computers, and two receptionists. Soon enough, three people came out of Mr. Chidiac’s office, and it was my turn.

Elie Chidiac was very welcoming as I explained to him the purpose of my project – to understand how people deported from the United States to Goiás re-integrate into Brazilian society. He explained to me that there are various social programs in Brazil in terms of education, health, and housing, and that deportees are able to gain priority access to those programs. He pointed out that deportees often arrive disillusioned and unable to help their families. These programs, however, may help them get back on their feet.

I asked Mr. Chidiac whether or not there is any data on the demographics of deportees. He explained to me that the Brazilian government does not keep records of deportees who arrive. He called Dr. Luciano of the Federal Police to verify this information and Dr. Luciano confirmed that Brazil does not keep these sorts of records. Mr. Chidiac explained to me that Brazil does not keep records on deportees because, for them, deportees are not criminals. Deportees are people who have committed a civil infraction in the US – either entering without inspection or overstaying a visa. For this reason, the Brazilian government does not feel compelled to keep track of them. Deportees arrive on regular commercial flights and are allowed to enter Brazil with no problem or processing.

Mr. Chidiac serves as an advisor to Goianos abroad. This office exists because of the large numbers of people from Goias living abroad – Goias is the Brazilian state with the most residents abroad. Mr. Chidiac was able to offer some statistics with regard to Goianos abroad. He ventured that there are 200,000 Goianos abroad – about 100,000 in the US and 100,000 in Europe. He also estimated that 80% are there illegally, and that about 2,000 are deported each year to Goias. Of the deportees, he estimated that half come from the US and half from Europe.

I asked Mr. Chidiac why he thought Goias has so many emigrants. He told me that, because there are so many Goianos abroad, migrant networks lead to more migration. Mr. Chidiac pointed out that Goianos are not likely to travel to the US unless they have a specific job offer. What he thinks happens is that a person from Goias is in the US or Europe working, and their boss asks them if they have any friends who need work. The worker, in turn, calls his brother, cousin, or friend and asks them to travel to where they are because they have employment waiting for them.

Mr. Chidiac explained to me that he thinks few Brazilians travel to the US illegally today for two reasons. The first is the falling value of the US dollar. The second is the difficulty in attaining a visa to travel to Mexico. Prior to 2005, Brazilians were able to travel to Mexico without a visa. Thus, many Brazilians who desired to travel to the US took a plane to Mexico and then made their way across the southern border of the US. Now that it is not easy to get to Mexico, few Brazilians venture to the US illegally. Instead, they are more likely to travel to Europe, where they do not need a visa to enter.

I asked Mr. Chidiac how migration from Goias started. He answered that it has to do with the close connections between Goias and Minas Gerais. Many people in Goias are from families that are originally from Minas Gerais. The same networks that take Mineiros to the US take Goianos there as well. He pointed out that many people he knows and works with in Goias are originally from Minas, or have family from Minas Gerais. Thus, although Minas Gerais has been the quintessential emigration state for Brazil, Goias is now taking its place, with fewer Mineiros leaving, and Goianan flows increasing.

Although Elie Chidiac was not able to give me statistics on deportees in Goias, he ventured a guess that about 80% of deportees are men and that most have lived in the US for over seven years. Overall in Brazil, 3 of every ten deportees are from Goias.

No comments:

Post a Comment