Bolivia protests Argentina’s immigration decree

Argentina's new restrictive immigration policy is drawing protests from neighboring Bolivia—and accusations that President Mauricio Macri is emulating Donald Trump. Macri's Decree 70/2017, issued late last month, modifies Argentina's Immigration Law, barring entry to those who fail to report criminal records to immigration authorities where offenses concerning drugs, arms trafficking or terrorism are involved. In issuing the decree, Macri claimed that a third of inmates in Agrnetina's federal prison system are foreginers, and said the country faces "a critical situation that warrants urgent measures." Bolivia's President Evo Morales noted that Macri's decree immediately followed Trump's executive order barring entry to the US for nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries. Morales sent a delegation to Argentina led by José Alberto Gonzáles, president of the Bolivian Senate, to meet with Argentine officials on the question.

Gonzáles issued a somewhat conciliatory statement after meeting with Argentina's foreign minister, Pedro Villagra: "Bolivians' fear is that this will unleash a wave of persecution because of the way people look, that people who come to work are pursued using the excuse of the fight against crime. There has been a wave of xenophobia, but the Argentine government assures us that this is not the intention of the decree. The meeting was positive."

But Morales reacted harshly to calls from Argentine federal deputy Alfredo Olmedo for a wall to be built along the border with Bolivia to keep out undocument migrants. "Brother Latin American presidents: let us be a great homeland; let us not follow the migratory policies of the north. Together for our sovereignty and dignity,” Morales tweeted. "Discriminatory policies that condemn migration and blame it for crime, drug- and people-trafficking, terrorism and a brake on the right to development are a shameful regress in the face of the rights conquered through the struggle of our peoples." (El Pais, Spain, Feb. 7; InfoBae, Argentina, Feb. 1; InfoBae, La Nación, Argentina, Jan. 30)