The migration law of 2004 was a turning point in recent history, revoking legislation that had not been fundamentally altered since the last dictatorship. It highlights the transition from a restrictive policy towards a realistic, open concept of immigration, which in its implementation still faces considerable opposition from parts of the state bureaucracy and segments of society.
In the light of restrictive migration policies in the United States and Europe, in combination with a permissive legislation, it is very likely that immigration will continue to shape Argentina in the coming years, particularly from neighboring countries. Especially those communities already established are projected to grow further. But also the continuing inflow of returnees from Southern Europe is very likely, as the main destination countries for Argentine émigrés since 2001 continue to suffer under harsh fiscal, economic and social pressure.
Argentina’s response to future immigration rests on two fundamental developments. Firstly regarding changes in the political situation, as the Kirchner administration has had more than ten years to implement its rights-based approach in national politics in coordination with a regional project of integration. The country is sharing similar political projects with major neighboring countries, especially Brazil and Bolivia, which facilitated the coordination of regional migration and the regularization of the status of migrants. Future Argentine governments may very well embark on a more restrictive path in issues of immigration and regularization in order to appease a more conservative and right-wing constituency. Secondly, the high growth figures since 2003 made Argentina once again an attractive destination for migrants. Since 2012, the post-2001-crisis, post-neoliberal economic model, based on a strong state, dominant export sectors and relative independence from international credit markets, is, however, experiencing serious difficulties. This applies not only to Argentina, but to the region as a whole. If this trend continues, it is possible that internal pressure to limit the inflow of people will alter the permissive framework which was successfully applied over the last ten years.
An optimistic résumé of these last ten years allows for the view that a new paradigm in Argentina’s conceptualization of nationality is starting to take shape: from the principle of national sovereignty and self-determination towards one that defines the state’s responsibility towards its residents under the status of human rights, and international and regional conventions, expanding the notions of citizenship and moving away from assimilationist discourses (see Box 4) and towards cultural pluralism in the creation of public policies.