Author: Catarina Reis Oliveira,Edite Rosário,Tiago Santos
Publisher: Observatório da Imigração, ACIME
The European Commission aims at defining a shared outlook on immigration issues striving to ensure third country citizens rights and responsibilities similar to those of European Union citizens. However, each Member State enjoys the prerogative of defining its own integration policy. The resulting diversity of integration policies is, alongside the very plurality of inflows, one of the factors that most affects the actual quality of the integration of immigrants in the EU. But the situations in EU countries display similarities as well as differences. This conjunction of similarities and differences may be regarded as an added-value, since it makes way for understanding which policies work better in which settings. Thus, by exchanging information on policy measures and good practices we improve our chance of obtaining better future global results in the whole of the EU. In this light it can be plainly seen that finding comparable indicators between different countries is something that will not only contribute to a better monitoring of both the immigration and integration processes, but also help improving the policies developed in these domains. Since the current project does not belong to the scope of basic research, but is instead an application of social science methods to a social problem with the purpose of aiding public policy, it becomes particularly relevant to know which policy documents, on a European level, circumscribe the field of integration. In the end of 2004 the European Council formulated the Common Basic Principles for the immigrant integration policies in the EU.1 This document states that Integration is a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of Member States (p. 17). This is the definition of integration that will be adopted at this stage of the current work. More recently, this statement was repeated in the Common Agenda for Integration - Framework for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals in the European Union. As to the notion of immigrant, the references abound. Some authors define immigrant as someone that enters a country where he or she does not reside with the intention of becoming a resident (Garson et al., 1999: 21). Others give this concept a more economic facet, defining immigrant as any foreigner that comes to Portugal looking for work or in order to fill a position that he has obtained before leaving his country of origin (Cruz Almeida, 2001: 6). These discrepancies, far from being individual idiosyncrasies, are condensed in the normative production, more or less official, of the institutions that congregate these interests. In Portugal, the National Statistical Institute (INE), for instance, acknowledges two types of immigrants: the permanent and the temporary. For statistical purposes, a permanent immigrant is an individual that has entered the country with the intention of residing here for over a year, having resided abroad for a uninterrupted period of over a year, while a temporary immigrant has entered the country with the intention of remaining here for a year or less, with the purpose of working on a paid position, having resided abroad for a uninterrupted period of over a year. The relatives and accompanying persons of such individuals are also to be considered temporary immigrants3 . However, the portrayal of the immigrant that arises from the Article 11 of the Convention no. 143 of the International Labour Organization is quite different; it is considered that for the purpose of this Part of this Convention, the term migrant worker means a person who migrates or who has migrated from one country to another with a view to being employed otherwise than on his own account4 , followed by a list of exceptions. The semantic field of the word “immigrant” is located at the intersection of the influence spheres of diverse knowledges and powers. This situation leads to the multiplication of the variables that are relevant for forming a concept of immigrant. These encompass, at least, nationality place of birth, economic purpose, residence, duration of stay, legal status and professional situation. A theoretical approach concerning the multiplicity that hides behind the concept would be appropriate for a structural analysis of the representations of immigrants, but not as a basis for a quantitative analysis of its contribution towards making integration indicators work. Due to the importance of standardizing concepts for measuring the integration of immigrants, we have chosen the pragmatic and minimalist solution (also in accordance with the subject of the funding line that feeds the current project) of identifying immigrants with third country nationals, although setting in context the legal framework that configures such “immigrants” in Portugal.