Elisete Diogo  (Instituto Politécnico de Portalegre 

(Portugal)

Luiza Mira – Instituto Politécnico de Portalegre (Portugal);
Raquel Melo – Instituto Politécnico de Portalegre (Portugal)

Topic: “They feel somehow unprotected” – challenges affecting international migrants’ integration in Portugal

Language: English 

Abstract

Migrating represents change, movement, and adjustment. A complex process experienced by immigrants, released by the quality of integration support. Challenges faced during the process range from personal aspects as cultural identity, social and economic condition, but also variables in the host country, namely local economy, and policy. Literature states the need for better provision of knowledge and training for social workers, particularly in developing evidence-based practice in cross-cultural work. Therefore, recognizing issues struggling immigrants are demanding for settlers to find their place in their destination country and for their fundamental rights be ensured, inwards a genuine inclusion process.

The present exploratory study is part of a larger project, funded by Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). Within a qualitative approach, it gives voice to practitioners who work with non-European Union immigrants in depopulated regions in Portugal. Aiming to understand integration processes, the research questions are: 1) What difficulties face immigrants in depopulated regions in Portugal? 2) What contributions can practitioners give for Social Work and local policy? Gathering data involved seven participants, interviews occurred from 2020 to 2021, and were transcribed and analysed supported by MaxQDA software.

Preliminary results point out that through integration in a host country, particularly in Portuguese depopulated regions, international immigrants face a whole of challenges, risks, and vulnerabilities, once arriving: i) discrimination to access to decent housing and a lack of it; ii) labor instability and insecurity; iii) lack of familiar support network; iv) latency during the settlement process to become legal; v) misinformation in services as schools and healthcare; vi) language barrier. As well as: a) transport infrastructure and connections; b) digital literacy and internet access; c) availability of job opportunities matching their qualifications; d) missing of entertainment and social attractiveness in an ageing area.

Conclusions highlight implications for policy and practice.