Government officials announced on Thursday that they would seek to deport four foreigners who, according to police, participated in the clashes that took place outside Congress during the debate over the 2019 Budget Bill.
However, chances are they are not legally allowed to.
In an interview with The Bubble, Diego Morales, Director of Litigation and Legal Defense of the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales’ (CELS), explained that there are only three circumstances in which the current migrations law allows the government to deport foreigners, and none of them are met in these cases.
Circumstance one: “It takes place if the migrant is in an irregular situation – i.e, if a person came as a tourist and stayed longer than what he or she was legally allowed to. However, in that case the state needs to compel them to regularize their situation and give them enough time to do so. If they don’t then the state can proceed with the deportation.”
Circumstance two: “It concerns those who are legally allowed to live in Argentina but have a criminal record. Nonetheless, to have a record means that they need to have been sentenced or a firm indictment – that is, one that has been confirmed by a Court of Appeals. However, a detention does not mean they have a criminal record and, in this case, the City prosecutor has not even pressed charges against them yet.
Circumstance three: “It happens when the government cancels a migrant’s legal residence. Again, the accused must have a criminal record for the government to move forward, and we know that is not the case.”
“Moreover, both the expulsion over migratory irregularities and criminal record are legally guarded by the right to due process. The migrant Argentina would want to expel could appeal or challenge the decision and have the right to a lawyer,” added Morales, who warned that the CELS will meet with the four people and provide them legal advice.
The foreigners were released along with the other 22 people detained on Wednesday, but the Dirección Nacional de Migraciones anticipated it will initiate the bureaucratic process to expel them if the legal requirements to do so are met.
The fact that it is necessary to have at least a firm indictment is key, particularly when deportation is on the table. Infobae journalist Martín Angulo recalled that in December last year, when similar clashes took place in the context of the government’s intention to reform the pensions system, 58 out of the 69 people detained ended up being acquitted.
Con las detenciones de ayer hay que recordar lo que pasó con la de diciembre con la reforma previsional: 58 de los 69 presos fueron sobreseídos https://t.co/ZbTneb8TIN
— Martín Angulo (@AnguloMartin) October 25, 2018
The government has warned about its intention to have the foreigners stand abbreviated trial to indict them and deport them. However, in order for this to happen, the suspects must agree to undergo the process. Otherwise, the case can last roughly six months.
The government has taken a hard line against foreigners in Argentina. In 2017, President Mauricio Macri signed a decree easing deportation requirements. However, the decree was declared unconstitutional by a Court of Appeals, which determined the matter did not merit for the Executive Branch to take over congressional abilities. Moreover, it indicated that the decree violated the migrants’ right to defense and due process.
“The means are not proportional to the intended ends, since it ties criminality and migration by establishing an expedited process of expulsion applicable to any foreigner, without any consideration for their personal circumstances, and regardless of whether they have a criminal record,” reads a relevant paragraph of the ruling.
Along with government officials, some news sites were quick to vilify the four people and speculate about the possibility they were in the country with the sole purpose of causing mayhem: some even alleged the Venezuelans could be intelligence agents from the Maduro regime, and the Paraguayan and Turkish had recently arrived in Argentina, tasked with laying the groundwork to disrupt order during the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
In an interview with Clarín, Turkish citizen Anil Baran indicated he has been living in Argentina – in the province of Córdoba – for two years and that police shot at him when he was passing by. “I didn’t even know there was a march,” said Baran, who also claimed police gave him no justification regarding the reason why they were taking him.
The Paraguayan citizen, Luis Fretes, has been in the country for roughly ten years and has two Argentine children, while the Venezuelans are brothers who are recently arrived in Argentina.