Illegal immigration remains problem in northern Brazilian state

2013-04-18 02:16:20 GMT2013-04-18 10:16:20(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 17 (Xinhua) -- The influx of illegal Haitian immigrants into Brazil's northern Acre state remains a problem that local authorities can not solve on their own, Governor of Acre Tiao Viana said Wednesday.

"I expressed our concern because Acre is a vulnerable area. The state can not deal with this alone," Viana said, adding that as a border state, Acre is a backdoor to both the entry of illegal immigrants and criminal activities such as international drug trafficking.

He said things have improved since last week, as the federal government has set up an operation to provide assistance to the immigrants, but more measures need to be taken.

The increase of Haitian immigrants began after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which leveled much of its capital city Prot-au-Prince. The immigrants entered Brazil through its borders with Peru and Bolivia, reaching Brazil's northern state of Acre in the Amazon rainforest region.

The illegal immigration to Acre has become a social problem for local governments. Last week, Viana declared a state of social emergency in two border towns of Epitaciolandia and Brasileia, as the state can not cope with the infrastructure and financial burdens brought by the newcomers.

In order to curb illegal immigration, Brazilian Foreign Ministry has set up an operation in the border areas to provide documents and work permits to over 900 immigrants so far.

Local authorities also called for the help of the federal government in dealing with the immigration routes as well, as they believed lack of restrictions along the borders has encouraged illegal immigration.

On Monday, a representative of Brazilian Foreign Ministry met with diplomats from Haiti, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador to find ways to halt the rise in illegal immigration.

The Brazilian government hopes to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants and criminal activities without changing Brazil's tradition of welcoming immigrants.

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