estudos internacionais • Belo Horizonte, ISSN 2317-773X, v. 10, n. 3, (out. 2022), p. 88-103
The Limitations and Challenges of the
Reception for Immigrants and Refugees in
the City of Dourados-MS
Cesar Augusto Silva da Silva1
Julia Stefanello Pires2
DOI: 10.5752/P.2317-773X.2022v10n3p88-103
Recebido em: 28 de junho de 2022
Aprovado em: 6 de março de 2023
This work aims to present the limits and challenges for the reception and inte-
gration of immigrants and refugees in the city of Dourados, federative unit of
Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, in the context of the international migrations in the
region. Through document analysis and national and international bibliograph-
ic survey, the socioeconomic data of the Municipality and the demands of immi-
grants in the area are presented, particularly the dynamics of infrastructure and
education. It is concluded that the gaps in terms of Portuguese classes, recep-
tion infrastructure and bureaucratic procedures for school integration are still
very evident challenges in this specic municipality in Brazil.
Keywords: Dourados-MS; Challenges; Immigrants; Refugees; Integration.
The objective of this article is to analyze the network of reception,
assistance and search for integration of international immigrants in the
city of Dourados, federative unit of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Through
a national and international bibliographic research, and analysis of o-
cial documents, the work sought to present the international migratory
ow in the region of Dourados; then contextualizing the structure of
services to immigrants and refugees, mainly, a database on the presence
and participation of young immigrants in the area.
Based on international relations literature and on ocial reports
from the Brazilian government, the International Organization for Mi-
gration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the
work attempts to demonstrate the limitations and challenges of integra-
tion of Haitians and Venezuelans in this city in Brazil. In other words,
what are the problems of the city of Dourados to receive immigrants and
refugees? The work will develop seeking answers to these questions.
Challenges, dilemmas and limitations that arise when the city of
Dourados does not have the structure to receive the entire ow of inter-
national immigrants from Haiti or Venezuela, local authorities seem un-
1. Professor da Faculdade de Direito da
Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso
do Sul (FADIR/UFMS). Mestre em
Direito (com área de concentração em
Relações Internacionais) pela Universi-
dade Federal de Santa Catarina. Doutor
em Ciência Política pela Universidade
Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. E-mail:
cesar.a.silva@ufms.br. ORCID: orcid.
2. Doutoranda em Direito Socioam-
biental pela PUC-PR, com realização de
periodo sanduíche na Alemanha (FAU-
-Erlangen-Nürnberg), com financiamento
pela CAPES. Mestra em Fronteiras e
Direitos Humanos pela Universidade
Federal da Grande Dourados (UFGD).
Bacharela em Direito pela Universidade
Federal da Grande Dourados (UFGD).
E-mail: juliastefanello27@gmail.com.
ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-9792-2076.
Cesar Augusto Silva da Silva, Julia Stefanello Pires
The Limitaons and Challenges of the Recepon for Immigrants and Refugees in the City of Dourados-MS
prepared to deal with these situations, schools are not multicultural and
most of the locals speak only the native language. This makes it extremely
dicult for the displaced people to communicate with the host society.
The local society of the city of Dourados seemed not to be prepared
to receive a relatively large ow, particularly of Venezuelans in its space,
and the problems of xenophobia, negative propaganda, with the presence
of immigrants at the city’s trac lights, seem to highlight the tensions
and the estrangement of the locals with the newcomers.
In this work, Venezuelans are classied as refugees as provided
for in Brazilian law 9.474/1997 (BRASIL, 1997), provided for in Article
1, reproducing the provisions of the 1951 Geneva Convention and the
1984 Cartagena Declaration. Refugee law is a substitute protection in the
sense that it is a response to disfranchisement from the usual benets
of nationality (HATHAWAY, FOSTER, 2014). Just as Haitians are con-
sidered immigrants as stated in Law n. 13.445/2017 (BRASIL, 2017) and
legislation that regulates it (Migration Law). With regard to the norma-
tive treatment given to Haitians, a humanitarian visa was granted, which
was the response adopted by the country since 2012 when the Haitian
migratory ow became considerable. (GODOY, 2012; SILVA, ASSIS, 2016)
Regarding Venezuelans, it is necessary to say that in addition to
the provisions of law 9.474/97 (BRASIL, 1997), the migratory categories
available for regularization of Venezuelans began to be presented from
2017 with the Normative Resolution of the National Immigration Coun-
cil n. 126, in a context in which the new Migration Law was still being
discussed. (JAROCHINSKI SILVA, 2018). However, in a discretionary
manner and despite these new guidelines, subsequent responses, such as
Interministerial Ordinance n. 9 (March 2018) and Interministerial Ordi-
nance n. 19 (March 2021), hover as part of the Brazilian responses little
impacted by the new law 13.445/2017 (JAROCHINSKI SILVA, VELAS-
QUEZ, 2021).
Considering that the Brazilian government decided to act more
clearly on the country’s border with Venezuela from February 2018, with
the emergence of Operation Welcome, a coordinated eort for the recep-
tion and interiorization of Venezuelan people within Brazilian territory
The refugee and immigrants are both a product of, and remains
closely embedded in, a complex interplay between state prerogatives and
human rights, and politics and law. (HANSEN, 2011). It is very important
to say that regardless of the normative classication established by the
States, the central issue is the development of the protection of the hu-
man rights of international immigrants. Checking the approaches and
convergences of protection for immigrants and refugees. (ARCE, 2022;
First, it is important to know that the city of Dourados is in the
countryside of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul (MS), in Brazils Midwest
estudos internacionais • Belo Horizonte, ISSN 2317-773X, v. 10, n. 3, (out. 2022), p. 88-103
region, about 130 km from the dry border with Paraguay and the so called
sister towns” of Ponta Porã (Brazil) and Pedro Juan Caballero (Paraguay),
the state is largely constituted within an international border zone. Thus,
cross-border issues are a recurring theme in the regions experience.
As one of the main cities in the state and the largest in the southern
region of MS, in terms of infrastructure, population and economy, Doura-
dos settles itself down in a strategic location in the migratory routes that
go through the region, covering events related to cross-border citizens,
with problems specic to dry border region, but also being the route of
international migratory ows that reach the country as a whole, as in the
case of Venezuelans and Haitians.
The city has four universities, thus having a large ow of young
people, and therefore happens to welcome those ones seeking university
education in the region. In the performance of assistance and reception of
immigrants, the public universities of the place stand out. However, with
serious limitations regarding the physical structure and human resources
capacity to oer Portuguese classes to immigrants and refugees (BORG-
ES, JESUS, 2021). Making it dicult to implement an eective refugee
protection regime (BETTS, LOESCHER, 2012).
It is also a city with industrial hubs, in which refrigeration indus-
tries, play a fundamental role, in relation to the classication of the Na-
tional Register of Economic Activities (CNAE), the processing industries
and agricultural activities, in general, are listed as the main private eco-
nomic activities of the state (SEMAGRO, 2017). Job opportunities in the
industries, commerce and agricultural activities in the region are also
a strong appeal for young people looking for a place in the market, al-
though some jobs depend on higher qualications.
Face to such issues, the legal and international studies of universi-
ties always reected the transnational matters that involved the region,
which, consequently, ended up attracting the study of international re-
gimes of protection (KRASNER, 1983). A study that resulted in the tech-
nical-scientic partnership between the United Nations High Commis-
sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and university, through the Chair Sergio
Vieira de Mello (CSVM), started in 2014 (UNHCR, 2017).
Since then, the project has attracted academics and professors from
the Law and International Relations courses, and since 2016, with the
creation of the Master’s degree in Borders and Human Rights, it start-
ed to count on the participation of Master’s students who worked with
the theme. Currently, the Chair is in full expansion, establishing links
with the most diverse areas of research and extension, which has enabled
the expansion of its political and social range. However, still not enough
for the arrival of more than 3 thousand Venezuelans and more than a
thousand Haitians. There are few language teachers engaged in helping
immigrants, and the physical structure oered for classes is not of great
quality (SILVA, 2021).
The policy for granting humanitarian visas since 2012 has intensi-
ed the migratory ow of Haitians to Brazil (JESUS, 2020), and Doura-
dos-MS, due to its geographic and socioeconomic structure, has also be-
come a place of interest for immigrants, in special, young immigrants,
Cesar Augusto Silva da Silva, Julia Stefanello Pires
The Limitaons and Challenges of the Recepon for Immigrants and Refugees in the City of Dourados-MS
looking for job opportunities. Which has led many of them to frustration
for not being able to get jobs that pay high prices, given the nature of the
work oered in slaughterhouses and charcoal plants. (JESUS, 2020)
This way, several groups of forced immigrants, end up carrying out
their migratory ow through their share capital, considering this term as
the ability to benet from networks or other social structures, invoking
it to understand the paths and ways of insertion in the country of destina-
tion (PEIXOTO, 2017). Looking for migratory ways, leaving their country
of origin and entering the host nation, which has already been traveled
and explored by their family members, friends and acquaintances, using
other compatriots to be received at their destination and understand the
means of social integration.
Upon receiving the rst ows of immigrants, they began to call oth-
er colleagues, friends and family members to go to Dourados and the near-
by region, due to job opportunities (JESUS, 2020). It can be said that the
region came to be considered a great opportunity for groups through its so-
cial capital, a network of connections between the immigrants themselves.
The increase in arrivals also resulted in an increase in issues to be resolved,
particularly greater social assistance from the City Hall, better structure
and more human resources for Portuguese classes (SILVA, PIRES, 2021).
Initiatives to receive and assist immigrants and refugees are still
very much located in the university environment and in civil society
through churches and religious communities. When some of these im-
migrants are found on the streets and at trac lights, it is enough for
members of the local society to complain, to show their extreme discon-
tent, which reverberates in the local press.
Still, given the demand, the service structure for this population
was being structured, based on scientic and academic research on the
subject, creating a welcoming network in university environments, due
to the scientic technical partnership developed with the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Over time, in addition to migrant social network, other means of
internalizing immigrants began to bring new migratory ows to the city,
as in the case with Operation Welcome, a partnership among the army,
the federal government, United Nations agencies (UN) and civil society
entities. In a context in which the Americas region hosted more than 5.1
million people displaced across borders (20 % of the global population),
with 86% being Venezuelans. Sharp growth in the number of Venezue-
lans displaced abroad accounted for much of the 11% rise (524.000) across
the Americas (UNHCR, 2022). With the job opportunities in a large meat
processing company in the city, many Venezuelans left Pacaraima and
were sent to the city of Dourados with a guaranteed job. (IOM, 2020a;
UNHCR, 2022)
Dourados is estimated to have been the fourth national town to re-
ceive more Venezuelan refugees through Operation Welcome, with the
arrival of three thousand immigrants through the project. It is estimated
that in the operations internalization program, of the total of Venezue-
lan immigrants, 36% were men over 18 years old and 285 women over 18
years old, with only 17% of the total traveling alone. (IOM, 2020a).
estudos internacionais • Belo Horizonte, ISSN 2317-773X, v. 10, n. 3, (out. 2022), p. 88-103
Thus, even though some ows are organized and well structured,
as is the case with groups that have undergone the process of internaliz-
ing Operation Welcome, once in the destination city, the eective inte-
gration of these individuals requires local support and care. In the case of
Dourados, civil society (churches and non-governmental organizations),
in conjunction mainly with local universities, has played this role in the
immigrants and refugees lives in the region.
Making it clear the limits and challenges of Operation Welcome
with regard to the local integration of Venezuelans regarding interna-
tional cooperation, and the crisis of forced displacement of the people of
that country (LOESCHER, 1993). The ow of these people seems to be
greater than the city’s structure oers, there is a disagreement between
federal and local authorities (SILVA, 2021), and the good practices publi-
cized by international and national organizations present clear problems
In addition to the migration policy, which needs to be in line with
the social reality of the country and its dierent regions, the reaction
of the host society will be another variable factor in the integration of
migrant workers, which will depend on their own recruitment of mech-
anisms developed by the employers themselves, who will determine the
placement of the migrant in certain segments of work (PEIXOTO, 2017).
It cannot be forgotten that it is in the social eld that the legal norms
are materialized/become concrete, and although Brazilian law does not
allow the repeal of the law due to disuse, it is evident that if the society
of destination does not transform the principle of hospitality and inte-
gration rules as a social norm, it will be much more dicult to develop
protective immigration policies.
In the next topics, we will rst discuss how it developed and what
is the current status of the immigrants’ service structure in the city of
Dourados, with special attention to the activities developed by universi-
ties in the region. Afterwards, the data on the care of young immigrants
will be analyzed, and their leading role in the integration of the groups
themselves in the region.
Despite Dourados is in a border region, the city has never counted
on a special structure to assist immigrants or cross-border issues, and
only with the recent migration ows of Venezuelans and Haitians made
these topics come to be addressed in a dierent way a more strategic way.
In 2014, an agreement was signed with UNHCR for the creation
of the Sergio Vieira de Mellos Chair (CSVM), and consolidated in 2015,
when university ended up hosting the VI National Seminar of the Ser-
gio Vieira de Mello’s Chair, unprecedentedly held in Mato Grosso do Sul
(ACNUR, 2015).
During this period, the project gained strength particularly in the
area of extension. Firstly, an articulation of partnership and contribu-
tion was made with the Extension Project “Facilitation Actions for the
Social Insertion of Haitians in Dourados”, developed since March 2017
Cesar Augusto Silva da Silva, Julia Stefanello Pires
The Limitaons and Challenges of the Recepon for Immigrants and Refugees in the City of Dourados-MS
( BORGES, JESUS, 2021). The project held Portuguese classes as a hostess
language for Haitians living in the city of Dourados, seeking to provide
the language as a means of social, cultural and psychological integration
of these individuals to the hostess society. (BORGES, JESUS, 2021)
With the articulation between the CSVM, the number of volun-
teers available to the Extension Project was expanded, and support was
also provided by the Dean of Extension, which started to supply materi-
als such as folders, notebooks, pens, pencils and erasers, in order to facil-
itate the accomplishment of classes (BANZATTO, NICOLAU, 2018). The
studies in geography (JESUS, 2020), collaborating with the project who
had carried out a mapping of Haitians in the city and in the State of Mato
Grosso do Sul, were also used. With such structure and information, it
was possible to establish new schedules and places for the classes.
In 2018, the project continued with the oer of classes in three
dierent locations, with exible hours and adjusted according to the de-
mand of the Haitian population. In 2019, classes were extended to all in-
ternational immigrants and the participant Jorge Delmar da Rosa da Silva
Jr., master’s student at the Faculty of Letters, started to develop a calendar
with the themes and activities to be addressed in each class, providing
the material with the classes ready for the program’s volunteer teach-
ers (SILVA, PIRES, 2021). In 2020 the project for Portuguese classes as a
hostess language was institutionalized and passed to PROEX, which now
oers the course “Portuguese for Foreigners: Reception Module”, by the
Training Center of the Federal University of Grande Dourados (UFGD).
A commendable but extremely timid initiative to teach so many immi-
From the connection with the extension project, it approached the
work of the sisters who coordinate the Casa Irmã Dulce project, a charity
house that served as a welcoming place for relatives and sick people from
neighboring cities, but that ended up having no use, considering that the
City Halls started to provide transport to citizens who went for consulta-
tion or medical assistance (SILVA, PIRES, 2021). The residence ended up
becoming a place for welcoming immigrants, rst being the headquar-
ters of the Portuguese courses, later as a point of care for the demands of
this population.
Since the beginning of 2019, volunteers from Law and International
Relations courses go to Casa Irmã Dulce on Sundays, where they provide
legal assistance and receive the demands of the immigrant community,
which are guided and brought for discussion by members of the CSVM
(SILVA, PIRES, 2021). The main points covered are: legal and psychosocial
assistance, renewal of passports (Haitians), diploma validation, domestic
violence and human rights violations, vacancies in daycare centers and
public schools, among other services. And the trend has been to strength-
en the growing partnership between Faculty of Law and Casa Irmã Dulce
for future assistance to immigrants in these areas.
Also in 2019, with the intense ow of Venezuelans who arrived in
Dourados, CSVM became part of Operation Welcome in the region, a
cooperation from UNHCR, International Organization for Migration
(IOM), Civil House, Ministry of Citizenship, Defense Ministry. The op-
estudos internacionais • Belo Horizonte, ISSN 2317-773X, v. 10, n. 3, (out. 2022), p. 88-103
eration carries out the monitoring and socioeconomic prole of Venezue-
lan immigrants, among other activities, such as public health campaigns,
prevention and combating domestic violence, legal and social advice, and
is becoming relevant to the plan of interiorization of Venezuelan immi-
grants in the region. (SILVA, 2021).
Operation considered one of the best practices carried out by the
Brazilian government to receive immigrants, but it presents some prob-
lems that become challenges for its implementation. Problems related to
the structure to receive immigrants, a lack of cooperation between the
dierent levels of governance in the country and the possibility of the
Operation not leaving any legacy for the population of the State of Rorai-
ma, as well as for the regions of destination of immigrants (Mato Grosso
do Sul). Questions raised by researchers linked to the Sergio Vieira de
Mello Chair from dierent Brazilian universities. (UNHCR, 2019)
For example, the local authorities of Dourados or even the govern-
ment of Mato Grosso do Sul were unaware that Venezuelans would ar-
rive in the region as a result of Operation Welcome, not being prepared to
oer public services (SILVA, 2021). Only the partner, the company Seara
Alimentos (JBS), was aware, as it would receive the Venezuelans in their
jobs. It should be noted that jobs in slaughterhouses, with bad wages and
low added value, to which Venezuelans might not adapt. It is important
to note that if a Venezuelan immigrant gives up this process of internal-
ization in Dourados, he is completely free to change cities or return to
Venezuela, but he does not receive the logistical and nancial assistance
of the actors of Operation Welcome. (SILVA, 2021).
Just as the Venezuelans were initially welcomed on an emergen-
cy basis in the spaces provided by the Catholic Church, which did not
always have the ideal conditions to meet all the needs of the individuals
who stayed there temporarily, such as the number of bathrooms and bed-
rooms (SILVA, 2021).
The participation of the local administration of Dourados in the
Operation only took place from the fourth stage of interiorization, from
2019 through the donation of 60 mattresses and visits by the Municipal
Secretary of Social Assistance, at the Rural Social Center São Vicente de
Paulo, in Indápolis, in March 2019.
Visits in which social workers collected information from 120 Ven-
ezuelan immigrants to register them in the Single Registry for Social Pro-
grams of the Federal Government, aimed at the low-income population,
as well as dissemination of the form of action and location of the so-called
Social Assistance Reference Centers, Specialized Social Assistance Cen-
ters and Specialized Reference Centers for the homeless (SILVA, 2021).
It should be noted that in 2021 there was an increase of 208 requests
compared to to the year 2020, when Brazil received 28.899 requests for
recognition of refugee status. It is of relevant data for understanding the
Brazilian dynamics of refuge in the context of Covid-19 pandemic, as
there is no way to dissociate the stability observed between the years of
2020 and 2021 of the scenario of greatest limitations the movement of
people and border control, when measures to restrict the entry of immi-
grants in the country were taken due to the pandemic (BRASIL, 2022).
Cesar Augusto Silva da Silva, Julia Stefanello Pires
The Limitaons and Challenges of the Recepon for Immigrants and Refugees in the City of Dourados-MS
Another initiative worth mentioning was the State Committee for
Refugees, Migrants and Stateless Persons (CERMA/MS), created in Sep-
tember 2016, state meeting to discuss the topic (MS, 2016). The embryo of
creation was the contact between the members of the Organizing Com-
mittee, still during the 6th Seminar of the National Chair, in 2015. Al-
though the entity continues to operate in a slow and reactive way, lacking
long-term planning and governance (BETTS, 2009).
Within Dourados, CSVM has also been partnering with profes-
sionals from other areas, expanding the approach beyond the perspec-
tive of Law and International Relations. Since 2019, professors, master’s
students and academics from other courses, started attending meetings
and debating problems and possible solutions in their areas of study and
performance (SILVA, PIRES, 2021). One of the projects, which emerged
from this interdisciplinary approach, was the monitoring of immigrant
children and adolescents/teenagers in the public education network.
University structures, with the support of undergraduate, graduate
students, technicians and teachers, have become very important strategi-
cally over time, including for UNHCR and other international organiza-
tions, given that the town of Dourados ended up being transformed one
of the poles of Operation Welcome promoted by the federal government
and the consequent ow of Venezuelans towards the city (IOM, 2022).
In addition to these structures, the town also counts on federal gov-
ernment entities, such as the Federal Public Defender’s Oce (DPU) and
the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Oce (MPF), free legal assistance and
assistance bodies, which defend collective and individual rights (in the
case of DPU), and also assist in the care of immigrants. It is important
to mention that Dourados is one of the only towns in the countryside of
Mato Grosso do Sul to have such structures, which end up meeting the
demands of other towns in the region.
In 2020, with the arrival of the pandemic caused by COVID-19,
new challenges emerged in the solutions to migration issues, in addition
to what the international community predicted (UNHCR, 2020). In the
midst of discussions on how to maintain assistance, without exposing
volunteers and immigrants themselves to the risk of infection, the care
network has found creative ways to continue their work of extension,
teaching and research.
Within the scope of teaching and research, several online events
have been held by the Chair’s participants. In these events, the main topic
of discussion has been the diculties and solutions found for internation-
al migration issues in COVID-19 times, both in Mato Grosso do Sul and
in the world. In addition to the participation of members of the Chair as
listeners in training courses and discussions promoted by other entities.
Likewise, the study group continues with its biweekly meetings held re-
In Extension programs, despite the risks and impediments caused
by the moment, CSVM continued its service, both in receiving immi-
grants arriving in Dourados, and in assisting those who are already estab-
lished in Dourados, which has been carried out on-line, por “whatsapp”
application messaging service and by email. (SILVA, PIRES, 2021).
estudos internacionais • Belo Horizonte, ISSN 2317-773X, v. 10, n. 3, (out. 2022), p. 88-103
Besides the activities promoted in Dourados, volunteers have also
endeavored to publicize solutions and initiatives proposed by other in-
stitutions, some for the improvement of volunteers and others for the
assistance of immigrants, such as assistance applicatives, classes in Portu-
guese as a hostess language for remote way, among others.
The world is still experiencing the uncertainties of the pandemic,
and Brazil is currently one of the points of concern for the advancement
of COVID-19. Many challenges will lie ahead, during and after the period
that the pandemic has started. Nevertheless, it is noticeable the initiative
and the union of universities in proposing solutions and continuing the
extension projects to serve and assist this even more vulnerable popula-
tion in the current scenario.
The diculties faced on the way, such as bribes, human track-
ing, sexual exploitation of women, documentation fees, tickets, and du-
bious paths, also cause reactive or involuntary migrations to be as much
as selective in the demographic, economic and gender sense, favoring
men, young people, with better nancial and physical conditions (RICH-
MOND, 1993), so that, although vulnerable, there are diculties inherent
to the migratory movement that end up making migration more possible
to a certain prole of people.
Assistance to incoming immigrants, as a group and as individuals,
must take these particularities into account. In this sense, when think-
ing about service, reception and integration, civil society groups, govern-
ment and entities must think about strategies according to the character-
istics of those immigrants, such as age, gender and nationality.
Dourados experience, especially that experienced by universities,
showed that Portuguese courses for immigrants are a gateway to inte-
gration (AIZAWA, 2020). Firstly by allowing them to have contact with
the language of the host country, secondly, classes are a point of exchange
among teachers (volunteers) and students, so that volunteers collect infor-
mation about the needs of immigrants, and they become aware services
that are accessible at university centers and within the government in
general. Although there are few teachers and there is a lack of structure
to welcome more immigrants. (BORGES, JESUS, 2021).
Within the scope of courses in Portuguese as a hostess language,
the project “Portuguese for Foreigners: Welcoming Module” fellow in
the course of Portuguese for Foreigners as a Hostess language (PLAc), in
the pandemic period is composed of three classes, a total of thirty-four
students, the age of those enrolled being between 18 years and 65 years
(SILVA, PIRES, 2021).
In this period of online classes, the students enrolled are Haitian,
Venezuelan, Bolivian, Colombian nationalities. In the pre-pandemic pe-
riod, the course had more than ve classes among dierent points of
Dourados, with more than 150 students distributed among the classes,
students of Haitian, Venezuelan, Bolivian, Colombian, Mexican, Indian,
Iraqi, Paraguayan, African. and Peruvian nationalities. (UNHCR, 2017).
Cesar Augusto Silva da Silva, Julia Stefanello Pires
The Limitaons and Challenges of the Recepon for Immigrants and Refugees in the City of Dourados-MS
During classes, the teaching of the Portuguese language goes be-
yond, not only being limited to the teaching of grammatical rules, but it
is also an approach to the language as a form of reception. In the materi-
al, developed by volunteers and focused on specic issues of the region,
students have contact with slang, idioms, characteristics of the city, the
region and the local culture. Topics such as the division of the city, how
to use public transport, food names, landmarks of the city are addressed,
among other situations experienced daily by citizens. That is, focused on
socio-linguistic aspects, in order to achieve interculturality with immi-
grants, and they feel closer to local customs. (BORGES, JESUS, 2021)
Therefore, it is important to observe that an intercultural educa-
tion can be a viable alternative to promote the ght against racist and xe-
nophobic manifestations, since allowing the existence of ethnic manifes-
tations in the school environment reinforces the importance of a society
oriented on the premise of global coexistence in which the people learn
to live together by accepting and understanding cultural, social, ethnic
and gender dierences. (CORRÊA, 2022)
The moment of the classes also serves for immigrants to present
questions related to their daily lives, such as expressions they heard from
colleagues at work and Brazilian friends. Over time, classes became the
meeting point of the university itself with the migrant population, who
used their time to explain various problems they had as a result of their
migratory status (documentation problems, local xenophobia, racism,
knowledge of Brazilian legislation). Thus, the need to establish specic
assistance for these issues arose.
Legal and assistance services at Casa Irmã Dulce started in 2019,
being established to take place every Sunday, considering that it would
be a time when immigrants would not be working. At rst, the service
dealt with more documentary and administrative issues, especially the
collection of documents for renewing Haitian passports (AIZAWA, 2020).
However, as time went by the issues have diversied. Currently, one of
the biggest demands is the regularization of school children.
Under the supervision of teachers and project coordinators, assis-
tance is provided by young university students and graduate students,
who are available to collect information, documents and send the case
so that the necessary measures can be taken. In 2019, 80% of the consul-
tations were provided to Haitian nationals, and in second place, repre-
senting 18% of those attended, were Venezuelans. Of the total, 59% were
male, 39% female and 2% transgender women. Approximately 31% of the
demands were nalized, the rest were still pending documentation by
the beneciaries, or the response of other agencies involved in the assis-
tance. (SILVA, PIRES, 2021)
The majority of those assisted were young, with only 13% being
over 41 at the time of service. About 34% were between 19 and 30 years
old, and also 34% between 31 and 40 years old. Of the total of assisted,
15% were from 0 to 18 years old. Demonstrating a young migratory pro-
le, in relation to those assisted by the legal services sector of CSVM,
therefore prone to insertion in the local labor market (IOM, 2020b). From
the presentation of the demands, the volunteers started to categorize the
estudos internacionais • Belo Horizonte, ISSN 2317-773X, v. 10, n. 3, (out. 2022), p. 88-103
services, make plans and spreadsheets, in addition to internal booklets,
with documentation and information necessary for each type of service.
The assistance to immigrants was structured and expanded, according to
the needs of those assisted.
Another point that became very important was the personal ac-
companiment of immigrants to places of care, such as the Federal Police,
where the Brazilian migratory police are located (IOM, 2020b). It turns
out that linguistic obstacles often prevented immigrants from having ac-
cess to certain rights, as they were unable to express themselves or under-
stand what the attendants requested, so the help of volunteers has been
essential to guarantee certain rights. A factor already pointed out even by
other reports or books, only regarding the socio-demographic prole of
refugees. (LIMA, 2017)
The presence of young immigrants was essential for the political
and social organization of their countrymen in the region, and in 2019
the Association of Haitians was created in Dourados chaired and founded
by youngs Haitians, residents of the city since 2016. Far beyond the earth-
quake that struck the country in 2010, Haitians blames his departure on
the lack of opportunities for growth in his native country (IOM, 2022).
The young Haitians, in addition to creating the Association of Hai-
tians in Dourados, provide initial assistance to immigrants arriving in
the city. Due to their prociency in the Portuguese language and the
connection created with the service entities, they are key people in the
dialogue between the Haitian community and the local support network
(AIZAWA, 2020). In the same way as dialogue with the local authorities
in the sense of trying to overcome the social and economic needs.
Along the same lines, the organization created by the Venezuelans,
called Dunamis Multicultural (Multicultural Association Dunamis by
Dourados and Region) defends the interests and helps the newly arrived
Venezuelan immigrants and residents in the region. (SILVA, PIRES, 2021)
At this point, it is worth mentioning that Venezuelans study at uni-
versities in Dourados, some having completed higher education or have
reached the condition of completing courses and revalidating diplomas, one
of the greatest demands of the present Venezuelan community, since many
doors are closed to immigrants who do not have their recognized diplomas.
One of the most sensitive challenges for Venezuelans and one of the obvious
gaps in Brazilian migration policy in the attempt to integrate these people.
Very few Brazilian universities oer the service of exempting the
payment of fees for immigrants who try to revalidate their diplomas. One
of those that can be mentioned is the Federal University of Mato Grosso
do Sul (UFMS), but it is not the case of the universities located in Doura-
dos. One of the academic limitations of the region. (SILVA, 2021)
Some of the Venezuelans who live in Dourados are authors of
books, chronicles and poetry. Such as “Mujer Imigrante” published by
Arebol Coletivo. The book written in Spanish talks about the cultural
roots of the immigrants present in the city, narrating the long journey
from Venezuela to Brazil. (SILVA, PIRES, 2021)
For them, it is a memoir that gives voice to Latin American im-
migrant, especially regarding the adversities they all go through when
Cesar Augusto Silva da Silva, Julia Stefanello Pires
The Limitaons and Challenges of the Recepon for Immigrants and Refugees in the City of Dourados-MS
leaving their homeland, rewriting their lives elsewhere, in the role of
workers, mothers, and wives. From the Venezuelan point of view, since
they left their homeland, they remember the parties and meetings with
nostalgia, as they had an intense cultural participation in the country,
developing community actions.
The political crisis of Nicolas Maduro’s government has deeper
roots and has an impact on all sectors, including the cultural one. Vene-
zuelan poets say there is no paper to print books in their homeland, and
the internet service doesn’t work very well. Governments that dont give
importance to cultural diversities dont really think about the country or
its people, says the writer.
For the eective integration of young immigrants in the region,
two paths have been analyzed in the context of formal education: the
recognition of foreign diplomas, which are at high cost, and the access
of these young people to quality education for training in Brazil, as well
as due monitoring to ensure that they are adapting to formal Brazilian
education. (BETTS, LOESCHER, 2012).
While legal assistance has guaranteed children, immigrants or
daughters of immigrants, access to free, quality public education, Por-
tuguese classes as a hostess language have sought to guide young people
and adults to take tests to access universities technical education.
Even though universities in the Dourados region have not yet de-
veloped a system for welcoming these immigrants to the higher educa-
tion system, either through exemption from fees for the recognition of
degrees or the availability of specic places, some ways have been taken
with inspiration and example from other universities. (SILVA, 2021)
The availability of places for refugees in some universities in the
region is mentioned, through a specic selection process, called Exter-
nal Transfer, Refugees and Diploma Holders, where applications from
foreigners holding a refugee, humanitarian or family reunion visa are
accepted. In addition to specic resolutions, which grant exemption from
fees for the revalidation of diplomas and recognition of foreign under-
graduate and graduate courses strictu sensu for refugees, asylum seek-
ers and immigrants with a humanitarian reception visa (AIZAWA, 2020).
The obvious limitations are that these processes appear only at the Fed-
eral University of Mato Grosso do Sul (UFMS), and not at the universities
and faculties present in Dourados or other regions of Mato Grosso do Sul.
It is noticed that young immigrants have an active participation in
the development of integration projects in the city of Dourados. Empow-
ering young migrants is, therefore, a form of empowerment for the entire
community around them. (AIZAWA, 2020) In addition to the assistance
provided to their families, both those who stayed in the country of origin
and those who accompanied them in the migratory ow, young people
also strengthen community ties with other immigrants, providing help
on issues they are already aware of.
Whether through study, job opportunities or the recognition of
their space in society, young immigrants in Dourados have shown that
giving them space is giving space to their entire community. Through
associations, idealized and made up of young people, migrant communi-
estudos internacionais • Belo Horizonte, ISSN 2317-773X, v. 10, n. 3, (out. 2022), p. 88-103
ties exchange experience, live their culture and form a support network
among themselves, it is the strengthening of migrant social capital. Going
further, they provide knowledge and opportunities for other migrants to
ascend, ghting for causes such as access to education and recognition of
foreign degrees.
Due to the pandemic, voluntary eorts remained hindered, but as-
sistance to migratory issues continued to occur even though remotely.
There is a lot to be done so that immigrants from the region can be in-
tegrated, however, universities have proved to be an excellent point for
ideas, debates and assistance to immigrants in Dourados and the region.
At this point, young people also stand out. Despite the pandemic,
migratory ows have not ceased to exist, so new strategies need to be
thought to accommodate these individuals. The network of connections
among immigrants has helped to monitor those who arrive in the city,
and the mastery of technologies is essential for the provision of informa-
tion and referral to medical care, if necessary.
The research and extension projects were developed with the
theme of immigrants and refugees at the center of the debates and ana-
lyzes, particularly after the ow of Venezuelans arriving in Mato Grosso
do Sul and municipality of Dourados. On one hand, research aimed at
immigrants in all their particularities regarding gender, ethnicity, pro-
les and motivations has been the object of research both in undergradu-
ate universities in the region and in graduate school. And such initiatives
have been transformed into scientic initiation projects, course comple-
tion works and master’s thesis projects.
On the other hand, the initiatives around the extension have been
enabling partnerships and cooperation with entities that work directly
with the issue of international migration and refugees in the city, such as
Casa Irmã Dulce, Operation Welcome, among other religious entities of
civil society organized. As a growing trend, these initiatives around part-
nerships with other university, religious and humanitarian institutions.
Portuguese class projects for young immigrants and partnerships
from universities present in Dourados who also study the topic, have
been made possible due to the presence of the Sérgio Vieira de Mello’s
Chair, and the expressive number of students and teachers interested in
developing projects of teaching, research and extension in the interdisci-
plinary area in assisting immigrants, in all its facets. Thus, not only Law
and International Relations courses are involved in the Chair’s projects,
that is, also professionals and students from other areas, such as Geogra-
phy, Letters and Psychology.
Legal assistance has sought to ensure that immigrant children and
young people have access to a free, high-level public education, to Portu-
guese classes as a hostess language has sought to particularly guide young
people to conduct tests for access to local universities, technical education,
and a better insertion in the local labor market. The role of immigrants
themselves, especially young people, in the political organization for their
Cesar Augusto Silva da Silva, Julia Stefanello Pires
The Limitaons and Challenges of the Recepon for Immigrants and Refugees in the City of Dourados-MS
demands, has been a major factor for their demands to be considered with
the local government, as in the cases of Haitians and Venezuelans.
Anyway, thanks to the eorts and the dissemination of the work
of the Catedra in Dourados, more research is being developed on the
theme, which enriches and strengthens the discussion of the subject, al-
lowing the analysis of the points still to be improved in the service and
integration of the migrant, and in the diagnosis of what can be done or
corrected for the creation of more ecient public policies to serve this
marginalized population.
The pandemic worsened a situation that was already in a delicate
state, demanding even more goodwill from volunteers and employees.
The existence of service networks has proved essential to serve this pop-
ulation, particularly young immigrants in Dourados, in this period of un-
certainty. Over time, the path taken by these young people, from their
original lands to the city of Dourados, in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul,
needs to be more highlighted and more emphasized, considering the pe-
culiarities brought by their stories and by their exceptional life trajectories.
Despite some of these advances, the limits and challenges for a bet-
ter reception and integration of immigrants and refugees are located in a
better management of the structure of public services and cooperation at
the three levels of government spheres in Brazil. Increase in the service
oering structure, dissemination of Portuguese classes at a socio-cultural
level, combating misinformation and xenophobia on the part of the of
population of Dourados.
In other terms, regarding the problem of what are the limitations
and challenges of the city of Dourados for receiving immigrants and ref-
ugees, they are of all kinds. Particularly a small and punctual structure
for host Portuguese classes, oer of jobs with low added value and little
information from the local population regarding the vulnerability and
reality of international immigrants.
An important limitation to be highlighted is the quality of the jobs
oered to immigrants and refugees is not the best, which can generate
a lot of frustration and disappointment on the part of this community,
combined with the fact that the language is dicult and for the revalida-
tion of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees graduation according to
Brazilian legislation.
Universities in Dourados have not yet developed a system to wel-
come international immigrants to higher education, either through the
exemption of fees for the recognition of diplomas, or through the recog-
nition of specic vacancies. As in other parts of the country.
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