By Allegra Berg
Following President Trump’s executive order for immigration restrictions, President Mauricio Macri of Argentina has called for increased restrictions on immigration as well. According to the NY Times, Macri, a self-proclaimed friend of Trump, believes that immigrants from poorer Latin American countries bring crime. Macri’s new immigration policy simplifies the process of deporting immigrants and restricting entry.
Opinion polls in Argentina show a general widespread support for limiting immigration. Some supporters of immigration restriction also advocate for the construction of a wall on the border with Bolivia, believing that Bolivians come to Argentina for free health services and education. This echoes President Trump’s beliefs regarding Mexican immigrants; his campaign for building a wall along the Mexican border promised to cut down on immigrants freeriding on benefits reserved for tax-paying Americans.
According to the NY Times, however, officials within Macri’s government stated that they will not be building a wall with Bolivia. Minister Patricia Bullrich, emphasizing the immigration restrictions’ focus on fighting crime rather than simply stopping immigration, stated, “the problem isn’t immigration, but drug trafficking and contraband.” Policies reflecting associations of immigrants with crime are not new, as Argentina’s former President Kirchner threatened to expel foreigners who committed crimes in 2014.
Fox News reported that the decree also allows the prompt deportation of thousands of current foreign inmates serving their sentences in Argentina. This raises a potential issue because citizens from Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru, more than three-quarters of Argentina’s immigrants, are allowed enter the country for 90 days without a tourist visa. Due to this, Amnesty International sees Macri’s new abrupt deportation policy as a violation of rights. These rights are guaranteed under the constitution and international human rights treaties. Foreigners who have a criminal record or are currently serving a sentence may also not be allowed to enter Argentina.
As reported by the Buenos Aires Herald, many of those who support the restriction are children of immigrants. In 2016, Argentina received over 215,000 immigrants, positioning the country as the highest recipient of immigrants in South America.
The general consensus between those living within the country was is that many thought the country had been too open to immigrants before Macri’s restrictions. However, this decision came so soon after President Trump’s immigration restrictions, causing many people to question if the decision by President Macri was due to happen or was pushed forward due to the relationship between the two presidents.