Parliament has enough votes to abolish Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), its current immigration and border control agency, and replace it with the reformed structure Serviço de Estrangeiros e Asilo (SEA), Público reports.
The majority party Partido Socialista (PS – Socialist Party) knows that they have the support of the Bloco de Esquerda (BE – Leftist Block) which guarantees them the votes to dismantle SEF and separate the agency’s administrative services from its police force.
However, there is an ongoing debate on whether this matter can be resolved by decree of law or if it should be taken before parliament. Minister of Internal Affairs Eduardo Cabrita has maintained that this is not a parliamentary matter and has refused requests from parliament members to discuss the restructuring of the agency.
This has raised the question of constitutionality, with party representatives arguing that going forward with a decree would render the dissolving of the agency unconstitutional.
While BE supports the initiative to break up SEF, they have voiced reservations with the existing decree that was approved by the Council of Ministers. Beatriz Gomes Dias, BE parliamentary member, says, “There is a parliamentary majority to approve the extinction of SEF, but we want our amendments to be accepted,” according to Público.
Other left wing parties have also voiced concerns, with the PCP (Communist Party) affirming it will request a parliamentary appreciation if the government decides to go forward with the decree of law approach. And PEV (Green Party) says if the matter is brought to an eventual vote, their position will depend on the proposal presented. Still, they do stress that “it is not enough to transfer duties to another structure if there is no reinforcement of technical, human and material resources.”