The “Perceptions and Expectations of Third Country Nationals (NPT) in the Diocese of Lisbon” study was presented in Mafra by Caritas de Lisboa and the Obra Católica Portuguesa de Migrações.

In it, the authors, Rita Nascimento and Ricardo Zósimo, from Nova SBE, consider that the end of the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) and the transfer of part of its powers to the Agency for Integration, Migrations and Asylum (AIMA) accentuated the problems, “namely bureaucratic issues, delays in regularisation processes and gaps/failures in support systems”.

AIMA inherited 300,000 pending cases from the SEF, a delay that is increased by other cases that the State has to respond to, such as visas from the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries or other renewals, generating delays of years.

The study presented includes interviews with leaders of immigrant associations in the universe of the Patriarchate of Lisbon and “allows a more in-depth qualitative analysis of what their concerns are” in relation to the Portuguese “reception ecosystem”, Rita Nascimento explained to Lusa.

The issue that most concerns immigrants “is associated with the regularisation of processes, because of recent institutional changes”, and the “blockage that this is causing in people's lives”, said the author.

“We’re talking about people, aren’t we? People whose lives are on hold, waiting for papers that allow them to continue their lives,” she added, highlighting that the lack of documentation affects professional and social integration in the country.

“Without documents, exploitation is easier, it is more difficult to access a house or a good job and there is an increase in exclusion due to poverty”, the researcher explained to Lusa.

Despite the problems, those interviewed stated that “Portugal is a welcoming country and there is no feeling of exclusion”, but they admit “an increase in discrimination against immigrants in Portuguese society”, also related to “the current political situation and the narrative published by the media”.

In the document, the authors propose actions to Cáritas to promote legal and documentary support for immigrants, as well as training on their rights in the country and “mental health services in the support structure” of the Catholic organization.

They also advocate training for migrant associations in areas such as “social integration and legal topics”, but also training in multiculturalism and intercultural dialogue and “awareness campaigns” for local communities and society as a whole about the contributions of immigrants to the country.