- President Donald Trump announced a ban on immigration to the US in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Portugal extended citizenship rights to refugees and asylum seekers until July 1, so they can access public services.
- Portugal’s measure is meant to ensure public health by allowing more people to access services that could reduce the spread of the virus.
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While President Donald Trump said he intends to sign an executive order that will temporarily suspend immigration to the United States citing COVID-19 concerns, Portugal is taking a radically different approach. The country recently implemented a measure to extend citizenship rights to asylum seekers and refugees for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
Business Insider previously reported that the proposed ban, which Trump tweeted about on Monday and released more information about on Tuesday, would put a 60-day hold on individuals seeking permanent residency or those seeking green cards. It does not impact the guest-worker program or health care workers.
By contrast, in late March, Portugal made the decision to extend citizenship rights to foreigners with pending applications to at least July 1 so they can have access to public services in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, the measure includes asylum seekers, and all applicants have to do is provide proof of their “ongoing request.”
Their new designation would give them access to the national health service, welfare benefits, bank accounts, and work and rental contracts.
“People should not be deprived of their rights to health and public service just because their application has not yet been processed. In these exceptional times, the rights of migrants must be guaranteed,” Claudia Veloso, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, told Reuters.
Reuters added that in 2019, the country had 580,000 immigrants and 35,000 people got permanent residency. However, it’s still unclear how many people had ongoing residency applications this year that could be impacted by this measure.
According to the European Visa site, the measure is also meant to ensure public health by ensuring everyone has access to healthcare and necessary services to curb the spread of the virus.
According to CNN, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said: “democracy won’t be suspended.”
The country currently has over 21,300 coronavirus cases with 762 deaths.
On the other hand, the US has over 827,000 coronavirus cases with more than 45,400 deaths. Health experts have said that a lack of testing and late lockdown efforts have contributed to the spread of the virus in the US.
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