In the 31st period of sessions of the Committee on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in Geneva, Argentina’s head of immigration announced the state’s decision to lift the ban preventing Vanessa Gómez Cueva from living in the same country as her 6 and 14year old children.
The woman was expelled from Argentina to her native Peru in February 2019 with her 2year old infant, resulting in Vanessa’s separation from her two eldest.
After seven months of expulsion, the pressure from civil society, sectors of the public opinion and international organizations amounted to Vanessa and her 2year old being allowed to return to Argentinian soil and reuniting as a family.
The state’s decision is impactful in the sense that it considers the children’s rights first and guarantees the right to family unity.
On February 1, 2019, officers of the Federal Police arrested Vanessa and deceitfully brought her and her baby to the airport. After threatening to send her baby back to Peru on its own, they forced her to board the Lima-bound plane and thus expelled her and her baby, separating her from her other two children.
The expulsion order emitted by the national board of immigration is based on the modification decree 70/2017 brought to immigration law in Argentina since came into effect. Under this decree, any migrant with an open record, whether convicted or not, is subject to deportation. Vanessa was deported because of a 4year prison sentence for drug trafficking that she finished serving in 2014. Upon completing her sentence, she studied to become a nurse and started working with the elderly.
The expulsion order did not take into account that her debt towards society had been paid and that her deportation implied dividing a family with minors.
The case of Vanessa Gómez Cueva is a clear example of the preoccupying turn in Argentina’s migrant policy after the adoption of the presidential decree 70/2017. The decree modifies fundamental aspects of the existing law and affects the rights of migrant persons directly. Among its consequences, children are being separated from their parents in procedures that violate due process and the right to defense. The bottom line is that migrant persons who have lived in Argentina for years, who’ve served their sentences and who’ve constituted families are being expelled.
Vanessa is not alone in this extreme situation. Many other families are presently separated or facing separation in the wake of a pending expulsion order. This situation compromises Argentina’s international agreements towards the protection of family unity and the best interest of chidren.
Click here to read the complete resolution of the National Direction of Migrations in Spanish.