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Argentine President Mauricio Macri during a welcoming ceremony at the Planalto Presidential Palace, Brasilia, Brazil, Feb. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

Macri’s Toughened Immigration Rules Evoke Trump and Risk Isolating Argentina

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017

In a decree late last month, Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, announced new immigration rules that risk repudiating the country’s history and could presage a painful break with its neighbors. The policy changes themselves are relatively minor, explicitly prohibiting the entry of any foreign national with past involvement in drug trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking and several other activities associated with organized crime. The new measures also expedite the deportation of all foreign-born residents implicated in similar crimes, whether these were committed in Argentina or in other countries. While the threshold for implication necessary for deportation remains uncertain, it can be triggered without a criminal conviction.

Macri’s administration telegraphed its intention to carry out an immigration crackdown for months prior to the order. In what might be seen as a gambit to test the level of opposition to a more punitive approach, in August it established a detention center for migrants in Buenos Aires. Reports began to surface soon after about Macri negotiating with opposition blocs on the issue. In December, the administration leaked a plan, much like the one that was later issued, to a prominent newspaper columnist. In January, Macri created a new agency, the National Border Commission, whose goal was to close the border to criminals. ...

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