Following the very talked about national decree by Macri to strengthen border control comes the news that the Government is considering the idea of creating a specific immigration police force.
This would be yet another measure aimed at tightening Argentine borders, and is one that is seriously being considered by those in high office.
At present there are four federal forces: border patrol, coast guard, federal police and the airport security police – the function of the proposed immigration police would be to specifically attend to immigration issues, those related to residence and deportation matters which at the moment are dealt with by means of lengthy trials, explained Horacio Garcia, Argentine Director of Immigration to Clarín.
In accordance with immigration law 25871, the four existing federal forces will operate as ‘assistants [to the] immigration police’, the Government explained that there was a ‘blind spot’ between tasks of administrative immigration and those of security intervention — the creation of the immigration police could help remedy this.
Special immigration forces are commonplace in other countries, most notably in Spain, Germany and Brazil where the federal police have a section specifically dedicated to matters of immigration. The most notorious being the US border patrol.
The law still has a way to go before being passed by Congress, as one of its strategists admitted “it is complex’; and as sources told Clarín, is ‘facing resistance’.
The creation of this force presents an abundance of important questions — money previously allocated to other departments would have to be allotted to the new force — which would be under the jurisdiction of Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio.
Further, redistribution of the tasks of other departments may cause tension, and slight confusion as to the forces primary alliance. Security Minister, Patricia Bullrich could be keen on blurring the lines between the two departments, having previously revealed data regarding immigration claiming that 1 in 3 drug-related crimes are committed by foreigners — a misleading statement which neglects to mention that out of all Argentine crimes only 4.8% of the 72693 arrested in all prisons are foreigners.
This has led members of the social movement group ‘Barrios De Pie’ to issue a complaint against the Security Minister with the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia, And Racism (INADI). Secretary General of the movement, Daniel Menendez, critiqued the xenophobic language of Bullrich, drawing comparisons between Bullrich’s rhetoric and that of Trump “she accused Peruvians, Bolivians and Paraguayans of being responsible for trafficking drugs in Argentina”. Adding “we are all for strengthening the fight against narco-trafficking, but not stigmatizing foreign communities.”
However, the Government maintains firm saying that there is widespread support for their immigration measures, and a recent poll by Polarquia shows that 88% of those surveyed supported the stricter immigration regulations.
The idea of the measure itself is not completely new, as Martín Arias Duval, previous Director Of Immigration under both former President Cristina Kirchner’s administration, tried to implement a similar measure in the past.