Brazilian Immigration

Used Katheryn Gallant ( and Davis.  

Brazil used to be a country that received immigrants from around the world. Before the 1960s, Brazil was a country that people immigrated to. In recent years, however, at least a million Brazilians have immigrated to the US, Europe and Japan. This trend may be increased by the recent Brazilian economic problems.  

After the coup d'état of 1964, thousands of opponents of the military regime went into exile. Most of  these exiles returned to Brazil after the amnesty of 1979, but the number of economic emigrants grew in the 1980s. This was especially true after the 1979 oil crisis and the military government's fiscal mismanagement.  In 1987 about 300,000 Brazilians lived outside the country.  Since then emigration has increased at a rate of 20% per year.

In 1969 the Banco do Brasil opened a New York branch.  In the same year he Brazilian-American chamber of Commerce was founded to promote trade and investment between the two countries. (Davis p. 10)

Since April 1991, there have been no official statistics about Brazilian emigrants. We only know that  the number of passports issued by the Federal Police in 1993 came to a total of 436,177.  Of this number, we do not know how many decided to emigrate.  We do know that the overwhelming majority of Brazilians in the United States (87 percent) were born in Brazil.  

The Brazilian Geography and Statistics Institute (IBGE) found a statistical "absence" of 1,379,928 Brazilians between the ages of 20 to 44 from the 1991 census (which IBGE researchers discovered while examining the census demographics).  The most logical explanation is Brazilian emigration.

Perhaps half of the emigrant Brazilians live in the United States. The largest Brazilian settlements are on the East Coast. New York is estimated to have between 80,000 to 150,000 Brazilian emigrants. Another 150,000 are estimated to live in Boston, 65,000 in Florida (mostly in the Miami area), 20,000 in California, 10,000 in Houston, Texas ,and another 10,000 in Washington, DC.

More than half the Brazilians who immigrate to the US, according to the Center for Immigration Studies in New York, already have friends or relatives in the US with whom they stay after they arrive in the country. In 25% of the cases, the immigrants do not plan on returning to Brazil.

Maxine Margolis, an American anthropologist, spent three years studying the Brazilian community in New York interviewing more than 250 Brazilian immigrants or Brazucas as they are called.  She published her work as the book Little Brazil (1994).  She found that most of the Brazilians she interviewed were ashamed to be immigrants with almost 90% saying they are not immigrants, but rather are just passing through.  Margolis discovered that most of the Brazilians in the US are from middle-class families and that the "Immigrants defend themselves from frustration by thinking that they're doing these services only for a year or two, that it's a temporary situation."

"Despite what many people think, most Brazilian immigrants arrive with money and contacts to stay in the US some time before getting a job," Gino Agostinelli, of the Center for Immigration Studies, has told the São Paulo newspaper Folha de São Paulo. "They aren't desperate fugitives, but people with money who are looking for another way of life."

About 65% of Brazilian immigrants to the US find a job within three weeks of their arrival. At first, most immigrants seek jobs in the same field in which they worked in Brazil principally because this is one of the easiest ways of getting a green card, the permanent resident visa for aliens living in the US. However, almost 70% of Brazilians living in the US are illegal immigrants.  (With so many illegal immigrants in the United States, it has to be assumed that the country secretely, or unofficially, wants the immigrants, legal or illegal.  I asked a an illegal Brazilian immigrant if Brazilians in American want information on the immigration service and she said "Not really, because they don't really have to worry about the immigration service.  There is always a way a round the immigration rules.  Even if they catch you and throw you out, you can just come back another way -- you can change your name back in Brazil and then return or come back via Mexico, or some other way.")

The high percentage of illegal immigrants means the vast majority of Brazilian immigrants end up in menial jobs with salaries between $1000 and $2000 a month. Only about 4% of Brazilian immigrants who come to New York to stay earn more than $3000 a month. Generally, these are legal immigrants who work in occupations related to the jobs they had in Brazil.

While 59% of the Brazilian female immigrants in New York have gone to college, 56% of them work as maids, housekeepers, cooks or nannies. Among the men, while only 4% have no more than an elementary school education, almost all of them are working as laborers, construction workers or bus boys in restaurants.

The two occupations in which Brazilian immigrants have an almost total monopoly in the New York metropolitan area are shoe shining among the men and go-go dancing among the women, are also considered the most "shameful."

Margolis underscored the fact that the Brazucas are an "invisible community." Since most Brazilian immigrants work from 10 to 15 hours a day at low-paying menial jobs, they do not have the time or energy to make a bigger mark on their adopted country. And given the small amount of Brazilian immigrants compared to Hispanic immigrants, it is easy for the Americans to see the Brazilians as just another Hispanic group.


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