Portugal: Expansion of the network of Local Support Centres for Migrant Integration (Unofficial translation)
The growing need of services targeting the migrant population has been leading to the expansion of the network of Local Support Centres for Migrant Integration (CLAIM). In one of the largest municipalities in the country (Sintra), a new office opened in the civil parish of Agualva-Cacém, incorporated in the new building of the Citizen’s One Stop Shop.
Besides the Portuguese Prime-Minister, Mr. António Costa, and other members of the government, the event was also attended by the Mayor of Sintra, Mr. Basílio Horta, and the High Commissioner for Migration, Mr. Pedro Calado.
The national network of local support centres for migrants was launched in 2003, aiming to be a coordinated response to the needs of reception and integration of migrants. In the specific case of the municipality of Sintra, there is a protocol between the local authorities and the High Commission for Migrations since 2007. In this municipality located in the outskirts of Lisbon 8.6% of the resident population does not have Portuguese citizenship, a proportion clearly higher than the national figure of 3.8%. The main geographical origins are Cape Verde (24.8%), Brazil (18.5%), Guinea-Bissau (14.4%) and Angola (12.6%). The municipality of Portimão, the third largest municipality in terms of foreign residents in the Algarve region, with 68 different nationalities, has also a new Local Support Centre for Migrant Integration (CLAIM).
Despite the decreasing number of documented foreign residents in Portugal (from the top figure of 451 742 people in 2009 to 395 195 in 2014), the national network of 60 local centres is still expanding due to the needs of the immigrant population concerning services. The Local Centres establish the link between the migrants and the relevant local institutions with whom immigrants are more related to in their process of integration.
Currently, the motto of the CLAIM Network is the "Integration of Proximity", focusing on greater local intervention, training of technical staff who provide care and also in supporting the organization of activities to promote the integration of migrants and refugees.