A hearing was held today before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the changes introduced into Argentina’s Migration Law under DNU 70/2017. The DNU restricts the rights of migrant persons instead of guaranteeing them, and the State, once again, was unable to explain the need or the urgency behind its decision.
The DNU was presented as a security measure and authorizes the expulsion of migrant persons, even in the case of migration-related infractions and minor crimes. In this sense, it associates migration with crime, basing its assessment on partial, decontextualized data. The rapporteur for Argentina, Francisco Eguiguren, underscored the Commission’s concern over the linking of migration to crime, and the xenophobia and stigmatization of migrant persons that this promotes.
Diego Morales of CELS said that the DNU establishes a summary procedure for deportation that violates due process, the right to defense and access to justice. It authorizes the detention of migrants from the very beginning of the procedure and an indefinite detention if the person appeals the deportation order. In this DNU, the rule is deprivation of liberty – something that raised particular concern among the commissioners present.
Gabriela Ligouri of the Argentine Commission for Refugees and Migrants (CAREF, its acronym in Spanish) pointed out that the DNU violates the right to family unity upon eliminating it as a criteria for preventing deportations and detentions. The National Migration Office now has the last word in the matter, because the DNU prohibits judicial review of that office’s decision to grant waivers or exemptions in cases of deportation.
Nengumbi Sukama of the Argentine Institute for Equality, Diversity and Integration (IARPIDI, its initials in Spanish) pointed out that by linking migration to crime, the DNU authorizes institutional racism that plays out in discriminatory treatment in hospitals, schools and above all in police violence. He exhibited the case of an African migrant who was selling merchandise on the street and ended up unconscious after a police officer put him in a choke hold. Criminal charges were brought against him for resisting authority.
The DNU specifically authorizes cancelation of residency and deportation for minor crimes such as resisting authority, which could have a discouraging effect on participation by migrant persons in social protests, said Marta Guerreño Lopez of the Immigrant Collectives Union of Córdoba and the National Network of Migrant Leaders in Argentina.
Despite requests from IACHR members for the State to explain the reasons justifying the emergency executive order, state representatives evaded the questions. The organizations making statements at the hearing then the repeal of DNU 70/2017 by the executive branch or its rejection by the national Congress.
Participants in the hearing included representatives from the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), the Argentine Commission for Refugees and Migrants (CAREF), the Argentine Institute for Equality, Diversity and Integration (IARPIDI), the National Network of Migrant Leaders in Argentina and the Immigrant Collectives Union of Córdoba.