Discrimination by omission? Assessing migrants and refugees’ in/exclusion in the political-institutional response to COVID-19 in Brazil

Gisela Zapata, Federal University of Minas Gerais
Carolina Moulin, Centre for Regional Development and Planning (CEDEPLAR), Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)

Migrant and refugee populations across Latin America have been among the most affected by the adverse socioeconomic challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. While a growing body of research is exploring the integration of these populations in Latin American societies, country-specificities and a systematic analysis of their inclusion in the pre and pandemic scenario is lacking. This paper analyses the impacts of the pandemic on the living conditions and effective access of migrants and refugees to social protection and other socioeconomic rights in Brazil, vis-à-vis the country’s legal migration and asylum frameworks and the government’s political-institutional response to the pandemic. The paper uses a mixed methodology combining secondary data on mobility trends and the policies and practices of migration and asylum in Brazil, with qualitative evidence from eleven semi-structured interviews with key informants, including representatives from governments, Civil Society Organisations, and International Organisations across the country. Preliminary findings suggest that migrants’ effective access and exercise of rights is being curtailed by, among others, the invisibility of the migration issue in the public and private spheres; the state’s omission in fulfilling its legal obligations; and selective border closures, which may also have profound changes in the country’s governance of mobility.

Keywords: COVID-19, Migrant populations, Mixed methods research, Policy

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 62. COVID-19 and Migration