High Commission for Migration

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Portugal, in the last century and in the beginning of the present one, witnessed a high rise in the number of immigrants arriving to the country. From a country of emigration, Portugal became, also, a country of immigration. Up to 1980 immigration never reached more than 50.000 residents. Between 1986 and 1997, the number of foreigners duplicated, rising from 87.000 to 175.000. In the 1990 to 2000 decade, immigration duplicated once again, and the same reoccurred in only two years (2000 to 2002) reaching 400.000 immigrants. These numbers represented 4% of the Portuguese population and 8% of the active population. The perception that Portugal transformed into a country of immigration raised the concern early on for the integration of these populations. This new reality generated a variety of challenges, not only for the Portuguese Government, but also for civil society organizations, who were dealing with severe human challenges, extremely difficult to resolve. Also the foreigners who dad arrived, most of the time, felt lost and often were vulnerable to networks who controlled and exploited them, becoming victims of these situations. Urgent intervention needed to be put in order to minimize unjust situations and to protect the more vulnerable, as well as to help in building proper structures to resolve challenges and obstacles, respectful of different nationalities, cultures, religions and above all, of human dignity. Those principles set the basis for the foundation of the High Commission for Migration (ACM), in 1996, and the National Support Centers for the Integration of Migrants (CNAIM) in Lisbon and in Porto in 2004, and Faro in 2009. The objective of these 3 CNAIM was to resolve a number of challenges faced by immigrants in their process of integration in Portugal: dispersion of public services; different working methods of these services; working hours not compatible; lack of timely response to running legalization processes; lack of articulation among services; shortcomings in providing information and support in diverse specific areas; communication difficulties with services, because of linguistic and cultural differences and exploitation and illicit services. One other important aspect was the need to take information, at the local level, to immigrants residing in different locations in Portugal. The intensification and dispersion of immigrants throughout the country raised new challenges regarding local responses. Therefore, by involving local authorities, immigrant and non-governmental organizations from all over the country, the creation of 60 Local Support Centers for the Integration of Migrants (CLAIM) also emerged as a structural response to the immigrants in Portugal. Previous to the implementation of these 3 National and 60 Local Centers, the situation was complex for migrants, taking into consideration that integration was an intricate puzzle, full of problems and challenges, with the efforts entirely on the side of the migrants.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
With the creation of the 3 CNAIM, following a “One-Stop-Shop” model, it was possible to assemble and ensure cooperation under the same space and with an identical working philosophy, from all public institutions working with immigration, so that immigrants had access to these services, in a single location and on a single trip, and could resolve the different issues related to their integration process in Portugal under the same roof. In partnership with civil society (immigrant associations and Non-Governmental Organizations), other public services – specialized offices - were also created to respond in an innovative way to recognized concrete immigrant needs not yet being provided by the existing services – family reunification, legal support, social or employment support, for example. In parallel, recognizing the dispersion of immigrant communities throughout the Portuguese territory and the interest of local institutions in the development of responses for these communities, the 60 CLAIM were created to promote a decentralized integration of proximity, resulting from partnerships established between ACM and Municipalities or civil society entities, in close articulation with the 3 CNAIM.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The creation of the CNAIM in Lisbon, Porto (2004) and Faro (2009) allowed migrants to, in the same space and with a single trip, have access to different public institutions and offices that provide information, support, mediation and referrals to their different problems in an integrated way. By presenting integrated solutions, the CNAIM contribute to minimize migrants’ integration obstacles and promote equal opportunities. The institutions working side-by-side and sharing the same building and method, maximize working together and the joint resolution of immigrant concrete processes, in a fast and efficient way. The cultural and linguistic proximity of over 70 intercultural mediators, who provide first-hand service to the migrants, built an important proximity factor as well as support in the identification and resolution of integration problems. The mediators are also apt to interpret and translate in 14 languages, an essential support in some situations. Furthermore, the Telephone Translation Service is a resource that connects via simultaneous telephone conversation the institution/service professional, the translator and the migrant, in order to clear linguistic barriers. This service has been widely used within and outside ACM services allowing translation in further 60 languages. The possibility to provide support in different areas and in different levels of the integration process – from the initial phase to the promotion of access and resolution of issues in areas such as health, education, social security, employment, among others, guarantees an integrated response in the entire migratory cycle. This allows for benefits for the migrants, supporting their integration process in an integrated way; but also for the services, through the optimization of resources and an effective and timely management of processes. The existing common screening to sort out the issues shared by all services, through information digitally collected and registered in a single process, allows to identify a number of issues to resolve, including for undocumented citizens. Equally, having extended working hours and without interruptions allows for finding compatible schedules in line with the exercise of a professional activity and management of family life. This outreach strategies allow a “Safe Haven” in a very adapted schedule to the most at need. Within the CNAIM, the Social Support Office provides support to migrant citizens in a more vulnerable socioeconomic situation. It aims to give answers in articulation with different institutions and/or other CNAIM Offices, namely, in entering the reception centers, providing food or clothes, welfare benefits applications (Social integration income, family allowance, pre-natal allowance, retirement pension, disability pension) for more vulnerable populations. The Office for Support of Indebt Migrants provides information, advice and accompanies clients in risk of falling behind in their obligations under the credit contract, in order to support fragile financial situations. The possibility to go to a local center, in the logic of proximity, aims to receive and integrate migrants in their place of residence. The present 60 local centers work in partnership with 60 entities (56 Municipalities and 4 civil society entities) distributed from north to south of the country and islands. Whenever needed, and when the CNAIM or CLAIM have more difficulties in accessing the migrants, mobile field teams are assembled according to the needs and are requested to go to associations, institutions, neighborhoods or employers in order to provide services to groups of vulnerable people who are unable to go to CNAIM or CLAIM. With this whole-of-society response, the existence of illicit services, less concerned with the vulnerable situation and misusing the lack of information of migrants, has been mostly eradicated. The migrants are now in the centre of the solution, delivering them a compreehensive, integrated and clear response.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
One of the innovative aspects in the creation of the CNAIM resides in making available, in the same space, public services previously functioning in an isolated form and without any articulation, building a working model with effective forms of cooperation among institutions, support offices and specialized institutions and offices. The investment in personalized service which, in ACM’s support offices, is provided by over 70 intercultural mediators, of different origins and nationalities, often coming from immigrant communities and with relevant migratory experience, is a key aspect in the CNAIM and CLAIM. The mediators are indicated by Immigrant Associations to work in CNAIM, having diverse academic instruction, fluency in 14 languages, as well as training and experience in various key areas for migration policies. In the logic of integrated services, considering the new migratory realities and the constant current challenges that rose in the area of migration, namely in regard to the integration of refugees and asylum seekers, an adaptation to the national and local structures by Order nº203/2016, 25 July aiming to develop a modern and integrated migratory policy more suitable to contemporary migratory dynamics and current needs, which involve also the integration of refugees who are now also involved in the CNAIM and CLAIM.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The CNAIM implementation and management is the responsibility of the High Commission for Migration – Public Institute under the direct dependency of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, with the mission to collaborate in the definition, execution and evaluation of public policies, transversal and sectorial in matter of migration. Also under its mission is the management and value of diversity among cultures and religions – in strict partnership with diverse public administration organisms, municipalities, immigrant associations and non-governmental organizations. Open since 2004, the CNAIM celebrated 12 working years and have provided services to over 4 million people. Between March 2004 and December 2016, a total of 4.115.757 services were provided (2.623.754 in Lisbon; 1.294.051 in Porto and 197.952 in Faro). Currently the CNAIM receive a daily average of 600 migrants in Lisbon; 450 in Porto and 100 in Faro. Regarding the 60 CLAIM, between 2003 and 2016, a total of 635.560 services were provided throughout the country, and the partners involved are essentially immigrant associations and Municipalities.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The consultation, discussion and evaluation of the possibility of creating CNAIM phase occurred during the second semester of 2002. Possible locations for its implementation were identified in 2003, and the negotiation phase with the public organisms was initiated, as well as the partnership model to be developed with civil society. Prior to the start of the projects, an important and intense training of intercultural mediators took place, in different areas such as “Immigration Law” and diverse themes related with the process of reception and integration of immigrants in Portugal. In 2004 the Portuguese government made the political decision to inaugurate the CNAIM – 16th March, in Lisbon and 23rd March in Porto – under the responsibility of ACM. The ACM aimed to respond to the rising number of Portuguese non-speaking immigrant arrivals, with specific needs, for which the country needed to be prepared. In large steps, for the CNAIM implementation, it was necessary to go through different phases covering different activities: - Identify the difficulties felt by immigrants in relation to their reception and integration process; - Proceed to a diagnosis to identify the main public administration services relevant for the integration of immigrants’ process in Portugal; - Take into perspective possible immigrant associations and non-governmental associations with recognized fieldwork to be partners in the project; - Negotiate with Institutions and public services to integrate in the CNAIM; - Study the relevance of integrating possible offices for specialized support to be created by ACM in order to respond to issues/problems not being tackled by the existing services; - Study ways of working, in simultaneous, the immigrant reception and integration process in all its variables (immigration and host society); - Negotiate partnerships with public organisms and with immigrant associations and other civil society associations to integrate the CNAIM; - Negotiate protocols with the immigrant associations and the way in which to provide mediators to work in the CNAIM; - Organize and put into practice (in partnership with other entities) initial and continuous training for intercultural mediators in providing services; - Reform and adapt the buildings to make them functional for establishing the services; - Proceed to the launch of the CNAIM, with constant adaptation of services to respond to emerging needs. The creation and establishment of the CNAIM reflects the gradual negotiation and consideration process of the positions and procedures of all involved parties (governmental organizations and civil society) and the monitorization process was and is assured by a coordination team aiming to maintain excellency in service provision with constant adaptation in the services, looking to provide new and continued solutions for the needs of migrants and the host society. Regarding the CNAIM total functioning costs, now an embedded and sustainable public policy, in the last three years, the total costs amounted to close to 2 million euros, including human resources, infra-structures costs, training, etc. These costs are supported by the European Commission, through European Social Fund, by the national budget and by the public institutions that are represented in the CNAIM.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
In the design and implementation of the CNAIM, the involvement of the Portuguese governments have been key in anticipating and reacting to the changes in the migratory flows and in the resolution of problems associated to this reality. The High Commission for Migration was mainly responsible for the conception of the model, together with the main institutions involved in the process – Immigration and Border Services, Authority for Working Conditions, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Education – that, as privileged partners, shared methodologies, procedures, knowledge and information relevant for sharing among all stakeholders in the project. The main immigrant associations and non-governmental organizations that work in the area of immigration, also gave their important contributions by reporting the main barriers felt in the field, the most important issues and proposals for resolution. But also they contributed in the referral and dissemination of information and the referral of immigrants to the services or by making available intercultural mediators to assure specialized services in the CNAIM support offices. The High Commission for Migration, the immigrant associations and the municipalities with the highest presence of immigrants were involved in the creation of the 60 CLAIM network. The idea was based on having a service to provide support and advice to immigrants, by actively involving the immigrants themselves, the representative associations and/or the non-governmental organizations with whom they worked. The construction of the CNAIM and CLAIM Network turned out to be fundamental in order to guarantee the existence of a territorially decentralized structure that ensures solutions for the specific problems presented by the immigrants and refugees. As such, conditions were ensured for the articulation with local level entities responsible for the different dimensions of integration such as health, education, employment, among others.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
From the first day of operation, the services provided by CNAIM greatly exceed the initial expectations. Between 2004 and 2016 more than 4 million services were provided in the Centers. To specify some of the results, the Employment Support Office, aimed at citizens searching for work or traineeship, responsible also for guiding toward alternatives which may increase the potential for insertion into the labor market in Portugal, namely by informing of the professional training offers or entrepreneurship opportunities or by recognition of skills and qualifications, provided a total of 71.006 services and, 5.583 in the last year (2016). The Support Office for Migrant Entrepreneurship follows business initiatives, provides information to migrants on how to create a business, aiming also at encouraging the creation of self-employment. Within the framework of this Office , 160 businesses were created since 2009 and more than 2.000 trainees were involved. By contributing toward the reduction of barriers and by facilitating equal opportunity in access to the labor market and in the creation of self-employment, it contributes toward the Sustainable Development Goal 8. “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” which, under indicator 8, aims to Protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.” The Immigrant Legal Support Office aims to provide free legal support to all migrants and refugees who come looking for help. It focuses essentially in providing information, legal advice, referrals, mediation and support to migrant citizens in the protection of their rights and on their obligations. Since its opening, this Office provided a total of 136.746 services, 13.993 in the last year.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The implementation and consolidation of the CNAIM faced challenges of different natures. In the initial phase, related to the mass influx of immigrant citizens, which went beyond all expectations, consecutive reorganizations were made to the services and the teams were reinforced, in order to respond to the volume of demand (around 400 expected daily services, but in practice this number was doubled). The reduction in the waiting time for integrated services provided by various sectors, extended to a high number of people, was therefore - and also - a constant concern for the CNAIM managing teams. It was resolved by the reassignment of human resources and/or reinforcement of the teams. Taking into consideration the new migratory reality, such as the intensification of seasonal workers and the relocation of refugees throughout different communities in Portugal (Portugal has been moving from the 2nd and 4th places in the countries most involved in the relocation of refugees in Europe), new and updated ways to disseminate information to these communities were created. One of the new responses is the Mobil CNAIM, a vehicle operated by two professionals, carrying general information on all different CNAIM Offices, aiming to provide an answer to all those dispersed in the most distant locations. It’s a service made available by the High Commission for Migration, to overcome the centralization of services in the most populated areas. Also My-CNAIM is a new response, with the main objective to bring Public Administration closer to the citizens, integrating best practices in the relationship with the clients, giving them more and better information in the digital age. This objective translates in the development and implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and in the creation of new communication, interaction and participation channels, namely applications for mobile devices, allowing the progressive development of a multichannel service (telephone, SMS, e-mail). It is intended, once again, the logic of integrated service provision focused on the citizen, now in a digital version of a virtual One-stop-Shop.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The model for an integrated response provided by the CNAIM and CLAIM promoted an improvement in the access to services by the migrant population. The evidence is reflected in the over 4 million integrated services provided. On the other hand, the instituted model allowed, simultaneously, to have a more efficient, complete and timely response in a single trip to one location by the immigrants and refugees. The language barrier, one of the main obstacles to integration, finds in the CNAIM a response in face-to-face translation through the intercultural mediators and, also, in the possibility to use the Telephone Translation Service which allows for translation in 60 different languages. The intercultural mediators, over 70, from different origins and fluent in 14 languages to provide service to the immigrant citizen, have been identified (namely, through the application of surveys taken by the external evaluation) as an important factor in the reception and in establishing proximity during the interaction, by speaking the same language, by having knowledge of the cultures, and often by having lived identical migratory experiences. The launch of the CNAIM services also combatted the parallel market of those looking to profit from the immigrants’ situations. Having all services being provided free of charge and making it possible for the immigrant to resolve the problems in an integrated way, provided the clients of these Centers access to services in equal grounds with the remaining citizens. Considering the high number of services provided, it is relevant to state the low number of formal complaints received, contrasting with the number of praises. As an example, in 2016, 6 complaints were received and 31 praises were delivered by the migrants and refugees. That covers a universe of 255.796 services delivered in 2016. The impact of these services in the life of migrants and refugees was also measured through two external evaluations. As a result, it is notable to highlight that all inquired migrants confirm the important role these centers played in their lives, be it in the initial reception phase, be it in a post-arrival phase(96,7% in Lisbon and 94,5% in Porto consider the CNAIM to contribute highly and moderate in an initial phase, as well as 97,7% and 93,8%, respectively in Lisbon and in Porto, point to the same answer for the post reception period). (International Organization for Migration external evaluation) Additionally, contrary to what would be expected, a rise in the percentage of those who considered CNAIM to have “highly” contributed toward facilitating their life in Portugal later on (post the reception phase) was registered. (IOM external evaluation). In regard to gender equality, it is important to note that in the services provided to migrants, all mediators who provide telephone support are apt to inform, support and refer domestic violence cases, take complaints concerning traffic of human beings and to collaborate in monitoring the national structure of reference for female genital mutilation. All mediators are aware and trained to provide support and referrals in all the areas mentioned above.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The conception and implementation of structures such as CNAIM and CLAIM involve strong and dynamic partnerships – with public entities with responsibilities in the area of migration and immigrant associations and non-governmental organizations – raised responsibility of all parties involved, including immigrants, in their integration process in the country. The implementation of these services provided easy access to information, free of charge, chasing away poorly qualified networks and spokespersons, often self-identified as knowledgeable in the area, in order to exploit immigrants in vulnerable situations. On the other hand, it raised the transparency of the processes, given the sharing of the information and direct articulation established among all intervening entities, as part of the same process. The services were also evaluated via two external evaluations, independently tackled by IOM and by the Geoidea Research Center. Some of the external evaluators main conclusions include: 1. Concerning the staff’s competence and professionalism - it stands out as the second most positive category – “good” – in the majority of the offices, both in Lisbon and in Porto. (IOM evaluation). 2. In regard to the level of trust on the staff by the migrant users of the Centers, measured through the survey applied by IOM in the respective CNAIM, the answers are split between those who declare having High and Some Confidence. Education Office, Conservatory and the Employment Office, register the highest percentages on the scale. 3. Concerning the CLAIM, the main conclusion resulting from the evaluation was that when faced with a concrete situation of need for regular migratory situation of an individual, CLAIM (and its staff), generally, have a good understanding of the issues, proceed to a correct framework of the situation, and as such, deliver adequate counsel and proposals for the resolution of the situation. These professionals are competent, aware and available, and provide quality information. CLAIM are well located and of easy access by public transportation, however not always easily identifiable within the structure where they are integrated. (Geoidea external evaluation).

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The work of the High Commission for Migration (ACM) aims to contribute toward the reduction of the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion, in regard to migrant and refugees. Portugal has invested in the definition of national strategic plans as holistic political commitments, recognizing the need to strengthen the response in face of the occurring challenges. In regard to migrant women, both the Plans for the Integration of Immigrants (2007-2013), and the Strategic Plan for Migration (2015-2020), assume concrete measures for the promotion of equality between women and men and to reinforce personal, professional and civic integration of migrant women in society. Existing measures and policies in the promotion of entrepreneurship have a direct impact on women. ACM has, since 2009, held a project to promote Immigrant Entrepreneurship, which until January 2017, trained more than 2000 participants (1245 women and 802 men) benefitting in 160 businesses being set up, 60% of them led by women. ACM integrates the Intersectorial Working Group for the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation since 2007, coordinated by the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality. This Working Group is responsible for the National Action Plans Against FGM, currently in its third edition.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   High Commission for Migration
Institution Type:   Public Agency  
Contact Person:   Pedro Calado
Title:   High Commissioner for Migration  
Telephone/ Fax:   +(351) 218106113
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Rua dos Anjos, nº66
Postal Code:   1150-039
City:   Lisbon

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