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Diego Acosta

Argentina’s restrictive turn on migration: Trump’s first imitator in the Americas?

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by Diego Acosta and Leiza Brumat

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Argentina’s history and national identity are inextricably linked to immigration. Indeed, between 1880 and 1930 the country was the world’s second largest recipient of migrants, behind only the US. The immigration policies of both nations were often aligned during the period. In 1902, for example, Argentina adopted a law facilitating the expulsion of foreigners amid concerns about labour movements and anarchists; in 1903 the US banned the naturalization of anarchists. After the US approved its 1917 Immigration Act, which excluded from entry numerous groups including epileptics, alcoholics, criminals, beggars, and those with a physical disability, Argentina quickly reacted with similar laws in 1919 and 1923, fearful that those denied permission to disembark in US ports would continue their journeys to Buenos Aires. Read More

Brazil’s new migration law: a huge step forward for migrant rights protection

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by Diego Acosta

brazil-1542335_960_720This week (6 December) the Brazilian Congress voted by a majority of more than 70% in favour of the adoption of a new migration law. This law will replace the present framework adopted in 1980 during the military dictatorship (though it will only come into force after ratification by the Senate and six months after its official publication).

Despite its recent financial and political problems, Brazil remains a key country in the global arena. Together with Russia, India and China, Brazil is one of the BRICs and an economic giant – indeed the ninth largest economy in the world. Moreover, Brazil is both an emigration and immigration country and a crucial actor in the development of free movement of people and the bid to construct a regional citizenship in South America. Read More

Comparing migration governance in Europe and South America

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By Diego Acosta and Andrew Geddes

How do regional responses to migration differ in Europe and South America? This is the question tackled by new MIGPROSP research, published in the European Journal of Migration and Law.

Points of contact

There are important points of contact between Europe and South America.

  • The European Community (as it then was) strongly supported MERCOSUR’s creation in 1991.
  • In 2011, there were 3.1 million nationals of South American countries residing in the EU and around 1.3 million EU nationals who’d moved in the other direction.

But there are tensions too. The EU’s 2008 law on the return of irregular migrants, known as the Returns Directive, prompted a strongly critical reaction from South American governments.
A MERCOSUR declaration deplored the directive and pointed out the hospitality offered by South American countries to large numbers of European migrants. Read More

Free movement in South America: the emergence of an alternative model?

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by Diego Acosta

 

MERCOSUROver the last 15 years, South American governments and regional organisations have adopted an expansive discourse about migration that entails welcoming all migrants and promoting the free movement rights of foreigners. At a time when the European Union (EU) free movement regime has suffered a major setback with the United Kingdom voting to leave the bloc—an outcome heavily influenced by concerns over intra-EU mobility—South America’s move seems all the more noteworthy.

In contrast to their counterparts in Europe and the United States, South American politicians and civil servants stress the universality of migrants’ rights and the inefficacy of restrictive responses to migration. Read More

Inside San Diego’s Otay Mesa detention centre

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by Diego Acosta

Otay Mesa Detention Centre, San Diego

Otay Mesa Detention Centre, San Diego

Although much of my research focuses on legal aspects of undocumented migration, I’d never visited a detention centre for irregular migrants. So when the opportunity arose in May this year to see inside the Otay Mesa detention facility near San Diego (where a Russian citizen had died just days before), I couldn’t pass it by.

The first thing that strikes the observer is how far the facility is located from downtown San Diego. Indeed, it’s very close to the Mexican border. Having finally arrived after more than an hour’s drive, and after going through a double electrified fence and registration, we are conducted into a room where we are given a presentation by CCA personnel. CCA — the Correction Corporation of America — is a private company making huge profits on running such centres ($227 million in 2015). Read More

South America’s moves to liberalize irregular migration are in stark contrast to the punitive and fatal policies of the US and Europe

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by Luisa Feline Freier and Diego Acosta

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Image: Light Brigading (Flickr, CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Political scientists have long identified a paradox in the immigration policies of wealthy Western countries. Although governments typically condemn irregular migration, assuring their electorates that they are working hard to stem any ‘illegal flows’, they often tolerate the entry and residence of substantial numbers of irregular migrants due to structural labour market demands.

In South America, on the other hand, over the course of the past 15 years many governments have turned away from the previously often openly racist ‘criminalization’ of irregular immigrants and adopted surprisingly liberal discourses of universally welcoming all immigrants, irrespective of their origin and migratory status. Instead of distinguishing between desired ‘legal’ and undesired ‘illegal’ immigrants, South American politicians stress non-discrimination, the universality of migrants’ human rights irrespective of their status. Read More

Is free movement in Europe an anomaly? The new open borders policy in South America

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by Diego Acosta

Free movement of people in the European Union (EU) is currently under attack by certain political and media sectors across Europe, with proposals arising on how to limit its scope. At the same time, other regions in the world are adopting free movement regimes. This is important to highlight as it allows us to demonstrate that the EU’s free movement regime is not an anomaly as its opponents often argue. It also enables us to compare how different regions function which can lead to ideas and proposals for refining legislation and policies. As such, current debates on the construction of a South American citizenship as well as the MERCOSUR Residence Agreement, effectively establishing an open border area in the region, deserve our attention in Europe. Read More