AFP - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday issued a law giving tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants legal status and criticized rich nations for taking a tough stance against illegal migrants.
He also once again blamed the global economic crisis on "men with blue eyes," a controversial accusation that he first leveled during a meeting in March with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
His advisors have said the expression was a "metaphor."
"Blame for the crisis that was provoked by men with blue eyes must not fall on the blacks, the Indians, and the poor of the world," Lula said during a speech in Brasilia on Thursday.
He also accused European countries, without naming any in particular, of toughening immigration rules, which he deemed "unjust."
"In our eyes, repression, discrimination and intolerance do not address the root of the problem," he said.
"Illegal immigration is a humanitarian question that should not be confused with criminality," added the Brazilian leader, who was wearing the traditional clothes of Bolivia and Paraguay, the home countries of many of Brazil's immigrants.
The law issued by Lula allows all undocumented foreigners who entered Brazil before last February to obtain two-year provisional residency permits that can be made permanent.
All recipients will be entitled to work and receive public education and healthcare.
Brazil's Justice Department says there are around 60,000 undocumented foreigners in the country, but non-governmental groups believe the number could be as high as 200,000 illegal immigrants, with most coming from Latin America and China.