In a recent meeting, President Mauricio Macri further confirmed his plans to strengthen border control by directly engaging with leaders of countries who refuse to take part in information exchange agreements with Argentina.
Furthermore, the President says he is looking to take a harsher stance towards drug trafficking and organized crime by signing a decree to toughen up the immigration policy in the works. This week also sees the launch of additional security measures at airports in Argentina, which sees around 12 million visitors every year.
The President is basing his decision on cases such as that of Marco Antonio Estrada Gonzalez, a Peruvian drug lord who has resisted extradition for eight years. It is incidents such as this that have led him to request changes to migration and citizenship laws 25.871 and 346 respectively.
‘The procedure to expel those who have committed crimes or who have prior convictions shouldn’t take more than two months’, official sources explained to Clarín.
According to this source, the President is looking to make the decree official this week. The government, however, is looking to tone it down and say is saying that ‘they will continue working on it’- with a meeting on the issue planned for today in the Casa Rosada, and admit it could take a ‘few more days’.
The text itself was finalized with the help of legal secretary Pablo Clusellas and the Justice minister Germán Garavano to avoid the raft of challenges which it will undoubtedly face from CELS (the Center of Legal and Social Studies). A representative from the organization chaired by journalist Horacio Verbitsky has said that the measure ‘represents a step backwards for the rights of migrants.’
The government strongly objected to these accusations, assuring people that they are essential measures “to combat the migration of crime”.
According to sources from Clarín, the decree is more moderate than the version that Security minister Patricia Bullrich and Migration director Horacio Garcia had initially wanted; but changes will alter the timeframe and manner in which a foreigner will be expelled as well as changing the requirements needed to become a citizen.
In addition, it includes a section which denies foreigners the right to reside in Argentina if they have prior convictions related to the trafficking of arms, people, drugs, or money-laundering– although this decision is not set in stone. Breach of this stipulation would be considered a serious offense and the judicial power would subsequently notify the Department of Immigration leading to a court order attributing all responsibility for the crime against the foreigner.
According to a myriad official sources, this means that, along with the judicial process, the department of immigration itself is in a position to start the deportation process. The Casa Rosada, in an attempt to defend accusations of discrimination and xenophobia, and bring calm to the population, claim they are only looking to make the law more “reasonable.”
The decree will, among other things, establish a “special migration summary judgement”, which will consider a 72-hour period for foreigners to appeal their deportation process. At the end of these administrative proceedings, they will be given an additional 72-hour period to launch a judicial appeal and a judge will have the same time to decide on case. The process mirrors that of higher courts.
However, as the crux of the change is to reduce the margin of delaying tactics – which led to the lengthy extradition process of ‘Marcos’; the decree will stipulate that “freedom of information requests ought to be answered by public offices and entities within five working days”. In a similar measure, the timeframe for producing required evidence in the judicial office “cannot exceed twenty working days”. In addition, the minimum time that a deported foreigner ought to wait to return to their country will increase from five to eight years.
In the same way, based on the decree, those wishing to obtain Argentine citizenship must now show proof of legal residence for two continuous years. Currently law 346 deems “those who live in the Republic for two continuous years” as eligible for citizenship, and many tourists who initially come for three months end up staying and becoming citizens; the CELS also vehemently opposed this measure.