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Immigration Law Argentina

Immigration Law Argentina: Argentina at the forefront of immigration policy

The country’s immigration law is serving as a model for the region

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina is at the forefront of immigration policy in South America. Immigration Law Argentina

Through Law 25,871, which was issued in 2003 and considers migration a human right, the country has been promoting immigrant participation in society and fostering regional inclusion.

“It’s not the people who should be at the service of the state. It’s the state that should be at the service of the people,” said Martín A. Arias Duval, the director of the National Department of Immigration (DNM). “Therefore, all public policies are beginning to shift toward the recognition of rights.”

Two key initiatives are the Patria Grande program, which regularized the legal status of more than 200,000 foreigners between 2006 and 2010 and the creation of the DNM, which is focused on serving immigrants.

The law recognizes migration as an “essential and inalienable” right. It also provides for “equal access for immigrants and their families to the same protections, support and rights of citizens, particularly with regard to social services, public goods, education, health, justice, labor, employment and social security.”

Argentine legislation, which provides immigrants with the right to vote in municipal elections, has served as an inspiration for neighboring countries such as Brazil, which is considering a new immigration law.

“The Argentine law provides guidelines that promote not only the human rights of immigrants but also the integration between countries of the region,” said Paulo Illes, director of the Center for the Human Rights and Citizenship of Immigrants (CDHIC), which is headquartered in São Paulo. “It’s not just a law, it’s an immigration policy.”

The Argentine law is very different from the law currently on the books in Brazil, which is the Alien Statute of 1980, according to Illes.“That statute is guided by what the immigrants cannot do, such as join unions,” he added. “The Argentine immigration law is affirmative, as it’s based on the principle of promotion.”A focus on integrationThe current Argentine immigration law substituted the Videla Law, which was passed in 1981 and addressed the immigration issue from a perspective of national sovereignty and security.“At that time, even though the region’s governments collaborated with each other, there was a lot of mistrust. In fact, Argentina was about to go to war with Chile in 1978,” Duval said. “Now, we no longer analyze migratory patterns from a national security standpoint but rather in terms of integrating the immigrants into the society that is receiving them.”Communities form bonds

There are a total of 1,805,957 foreigners living in Argentina – accounting for 4.5% of the overall population – according to the most recent National Census, which was conducted in 2010.

The Paraguayan community is the fastest-growing immigrant population. Between 2001 and 2010, it experienced a 69% increase, reaching 550,713, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“The Paraguayan community has some of the deepest roots in Argentina,” said Ezequiel Texidó, the IOM’s regional representative in Buenos Aires. “We see a lot of mixed marriages between Paraguayans and Argentines.

There are also a significant number of immigrants from Bolivia (345,272), Chile (191,147), Peru (157,514), Uruguay (116,592) and Brazil (41,330).

However, due to the economic crisis, the number of foreigners has remained stable. There was only a 0.3% increase between 2001 and 2010, according to the IOM.

An example for the region

In 2002, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile signed the Residency Agreement, which came into effect in 2009.

The agreement recognizes the right of the citizens of signatory countries to establish residency freely in the territory of other signatory countries.

The agreement was an important step toward free movement within the bloc, said Helion Povoa Neto, coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Center for Migration Studies (NIEM), at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

“These citizens receive temporary residency, which after two years can be converted into permanent residency, provided they can show ties with the country [of destination],” he said.

There was a delay in implementing the agreement because Paraguay only ratified it in 2009. Prior to that, Argentina had implemented the agreement unilaterally.

“We encourage neighboring countries to adapt their regulations to recognize Argentine immigrants and to reciprocally offer them the same rights we grant their citizens,” Duval said.

Argentina signed a bilateral agreement with Brazil, whereby any Argentine citizen can directly receive permanent residency, bypassing the period of temporary residency, and vice versa.

“We also signed an agreement with Brazil regarding the connected regions along our borders,” Duval added. “It allows an Argentine to hold residency in Argentina and work in Brazil, and vice versa, without the need to establish residency in the other country.”

These agreements strengthen the union between the two countries, Duval added.

“Easy access to legal residency even helps in the fight against human trafficking,” he said.

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