Civil Society Calls for Humane Migration Policies in Argentina 

One year after a Decree announcing more restrictive immigration policy and representing a huge setback in terms of regional and international human rights commitments, members of civil society have raised their voices in disapproval once again, calling for a urgent need for rights to be considered. 

January 30 marked one year since the Argentine President, Mauricio Macri, changed the country’s immigration policy by announcing a decree of necessity and urgency (DNU) 70/2017.

The Decree represented a significant setback in terms of regional and international human rights commitments, including negative impacts on the right to liberty.

One year after the Decree, several civil society organizations, together with other experts in human rights, have critiqued DNU 70/2017.


This DNU has been the most anti-democratic reform of immigration law in Argentine history. There was n0 social and political debate, nobody (outside of certain areas of government) even had the possibility of seeing the draft before it was released.*

— Pablo Ceriani (@Pabloceriani_) January 28, 2018, Professor of law and coordinator of the Migration and Human Rights Program at the National University of Lanus in Argentina *unofficial translation

Picture:  National campaign Migrar No Es Delito (Migration is not a crime). Collectively, organizations and other human rights advocates used this campaign to call for the repeal of Decree No. 70/2017


The intention of the DNU was to deal with an alleged increase in criminal behaviour associated with migrants. However, various civil society organisations, as well as specialists in the field, have pointed out that these claims were based on imprecise and distorted information, and that the previous Migration Law already provided adequate provisions for national security needs.

“Since February 2017, the decree has been studied by the Permanent Bicameral Committee for the Oversight of DNUs, with no date set for its debate in Congress. In this context, all administrative decisions made since the signing of the decree are valid.” –Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS)

The Decree means that immigration detention in Argentina is no longer an exceptional measure, as it should be according to international human rights law.

The Decree 70/2017 includes the following changes:

  • Maximum detention period increases from 30 to 60 days
  • Indefinite detention for persons who appeal a removal order
  • People can be detained at the start of an immigration procedure, even before an administrative removal order is issued
  • Family reunification is no longer considered a criteria to limit unnecessary detention

This year the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants will be delivered. Argentina still has an opportunity to return to the status it had previously – as a migration policy leader for the region, and internationally. Argentina has a strong history of more than 10 years of addressing migration humanely, including the guarantee of the right to personal freedom.