Mother deported, children left behind
On 4 February, Vanessa Gómez Cueva, a Peruvian citizen with residence status in Argentina for over 15 years, was deported along with her two-year-old Argentinian son. She was forced to leave behind her two other children (aged 5 and 14), who are also Argentinian. She was not allowed to say goodbye. The deportation order was based on a criminal conviction, for which Vanessa had served a sentence in 2014.
The National Migrations Office must reverse this order, which violates the rights of the children under national and international law, and reunite Vanessa and her children.
In recent years, Argentina has been implementing a shift in its migration policy. Through policy and practice, the government is taking measures that restrict the rights of migrants, as well as refugees and asylum seekers, and encourage discrimination and xenophobia. In January 2017, the national government adopted the Necessity and Urgency Order 70/2017 that modifies the Migration Law 25,871 and its Regulatory Decree 616/2010. This change to the migratory legislation – implemented using an exceptional legal mechanism, without parliamentary debate and using biased data – resulted in a huge normative setback on the rights of migrants. Specifically, it expands the reasons for preventing or canceling migrants’ legal stay in Argentina, violates due process and access to justice for migrants, violates the right to family and family unity and criminalizes migrants.
More recently, on 6 February 2019, the provincial government of Chubut adopted Decree 136/2019 that allows for the expulsion and prohibition of entry into the province of all migrants with a criminal record. These concrete measures are accompanied by xenophobic speeches by authorities and public officials, as well as communication strategies from public authorities and mass media outlets that stigmatize migrants and link migration with crime, increasing persecution towards migrant communities.
In recent weeks, these changes reached a point of extreme gravity. Amnesty International and other civil society organizations are receiving reports of expulsions that separate migrants from children, even when these are Argentinian citizens. The case of Vanessa is one of the most serious cases.
In addition, the government has introduced various measures that greatly impede the regularization of migration: it has expanded the requirement to prove criminal records going back ten years, a 1000% increase in fees for regularization, the closure of programs of territorial approach and the creation of a new and complex digital system that limits access for low-income migrants.
The Decree of Necessity and Urgency 70/2017 and other regressive measures adopted by the government fail to comply with the international obligations of Argentina. In this regard, various international human rights organizations have criticized Argentina in recent years, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Special Rapporteur against Racism, Committee against Torture, Committee on Migrant Workers, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and the Working Group of Experts on Afro-Descendants.
Having previously been a country recognized by specialized international organizations as a model to follow in terms of migration policies, the regression represented by the regulatory reforms and public discourse being promoted by public officials is extremely concerning. Vanessa’s case exemplifies this grave scenario in which the right to family life, family unit and the best interest of the child can be violated.
Horacio José García
Director of the National Migrations Office
Dear Horacio García,
On 1 February police officers showed up at Vanessa Gómez Cueva’s house and requested that she accompany them to their offices to ”sign a notification”. Vanessa took her 2-year-old son with her and left her other two children at home, one 5 years old and the other 14. Police officers transferred Vanessa and her baby to a cell without light or water. Later that day, they were both moved to Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, where they were held by migration authorities. On 4 February, she was deported from the country with her infant son, who is still breastfeeding, without having been able to say goodbye to her other two children, who are being cared for by relatives. All three of her children are Argentinian citizens.
Vanessa is 33 years old and arrived in Argentina from Peru more than 15 years ago. In 2013, she was sentenced to four years in prison for the sale of narcotics in an expedited trial. After serving her sentence in 2014, she sought to reintegrate herself into Argentine society and obtained a nursing qualification, while balancing her work and studies. In 2015, the National Migrations Office ordered her deportation without taking into proper consideration her current situation or the existence of her Argentine children.
Three months after the deportation order was issued, Vanessa filed an administrative appeal that was rejected. However, she said she was never notified of the decision to deny her appeal, preventing her from filing an appeal to that decision. In October 2018, the National Migrations Office requested a judicial order to detain Vanessa to execute the deportation order. She was held with her baby on 1 February 2019 and both were expelled from the country three days later. Since then she has not seen her two other children. Her deportation violates the right to family life, family unity and the best interest of the child, which are all protected by national law and international treaties, including regional standards, ratified by Argentina.
I urge you to immediately reverse Vanessa’s deportation, allow her re-entry into Argentina, guarantee her return with her baby and allow family reunification with her two other children.
Additional target for the petition: Rogelio Frigerio, Minister of the Interior, Public Works and Housing