Government officials announced today that they will seek to deport four foreigners – one Turkish, one Paraguayan and two Venezuelan citizens – who were arrested yesterday during the violent clashes between police and protesters that took place outside Congress while the 2019 Budget Bill was being debated.
In a press conference held today, Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio Assured that the administration is expecting to deport them “as soon as possible.” The government intends for them to stand an abbreviated trial, in order to expel them once they are officially charged with a crime.
“The Turkish and the Venezuelans are not Argentine citizens. Their tourist visas were about to expire. Their cases are still being reviewed but we have already talked to the Director of the Migrations Office [Horacio García] and it is likely they will be expelled. To come to Argentina, be welcomed and then create violent situations, is not OK,” added Security Minister Patricia Bullrich.
The head of the Peronist Partido Justicialista caucus in the Senate, Miguel Ángel Pichetto, issued a statement along the same lines in which he said that in a “serious country, all four detained should be deported,” and criticized the government for having welcomed tens of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing the Maduro regime during the past years. “I don’t have a xenophobic stance when it comes to this, but I hope that the two Venezuelans we have welcomed generously with this joyful approach the government has, as well as the Paraguayan and the Turkish guys are already in the Migrations Direction, ready to leave the country,” he said.
This is far from being Pichetto’s first statement of the kind. In 2016, he had already been on the receiving end of criticism for saying that “our country works as a social austerity measure for Bolivia and a criminal one for Peru,” and, following his theory, “solved its security problem by transferring all its drug-trafficking infrastructure to us.” “The largest Argentine shantytowns (Villas) are being taken over by Peruvians. And Argentina incorporates all those social leftovers,” he said back then.
Between 2015 and 2017, the number of deportations in Argentina increased by 121 percent. An exponential jump which only counts foreigners with criminal records.
According to the numbers provided by the Direction for National Migration (DNM), reported by El Cronista, in 2014 there were a total of 809 foreigners asked to leave the country because of their criminal records, a number which isn’t far from the 2015 figure of 985. Although the number is impressive, it represents only the petitions made by the administration, and not the actual figure of those deported. The courts have the final word in the end, and in 2016 for example only 8 percent of the 1,286 sentenced returned to their home countries. However, this number is on the rise too, with 420 people actually deported last year (about 21 percent). Argentina’s justice system is also picking up speed. While in 2016 a foreigner had to wait up to 24 months for the decision to be confirmed, influencing therefore the previous statistics, things are moving much more quickly nowadays, to around just 50 to 60 days.
This year, a Federal Appeals Court upheld the constitutionality of a section in the country’s Immigration Law which allows the government to cancel residency permits and deport foreigners found guilty of crimes punishable with prison time. In doing so, the court upheld provisions in the Law which allow Argentina to deport foreigners who have spent at least half of their sentences behind bars and have no pending charges against them.
A foreign national found guilty of a crime in Argentina and deported cannot return to the country for at least five years.