“The Government’s programme includes reforms of the SEF, PSP and GNR which are the most profound changes in the security forces for many years,” Eduardo Cabrita told members of the Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees Committee.

The way in which the restructuring of the Foreigners and Borders Service will be carried out has been questioned by all opposition parties, particularly the PSD and CDS-PP who criticised this reform and demanded that the changes to SEF be discussed in Parliament.

In response to the MPs, Eduardo Cabrita stated that the restructuring of SEF confirms “the separation between the police area and the area of relationship with immigrants”.

“The intervention of the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI) should focus on what is the first phase of a foreign citizen’s arrival in Portugal. The MAI is responsible for the management of border policy and the monitoring of asylum situations. As such, it will be the future Foreigners and Asylum Service to assess both these claims and the case of asylum and international protection requests”, he said.

The minister said that after this process of arrival, the renewal of residence permits “should be done at the same place where all Portuguese citizens” deal with documents, namely at the Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs.

“A migrant citizen from the moment he has residence rights in Portugal goes to the same bodies as any Portuguese citizen, that is, he goes to the registry office, to social security, wherever he has to go to deal with the problems of his life,” he maintained, stressing that the SEF’s police area will be divided between the PSP, GNR and the Judiciary Police.

Without giving any further details, the minister told deputies that the National Republican Guard is being organised “according to the five regions model” and that it will drop “the district model, which is now completely obsolete”.