Argentina: A New Era of Migration and Migration Policy

Argentina: A New Era of Migration and Migration Policy


Current Emigration Trends


While regional immigration flows to Argentina continued in the 1980s and 1990s, economic opportunities abroad and a lack of opportunity at home caused many Latin Americans to migrate. Growing Argentine emigration rates, particularly of the young and highly skilled, closely follow the larger Latin American trend of those seeking more stable economies and social conditions in Western industrialized nations. An estimated 1.05 million Argentines were living abroad as of March 2005 — double the number from 1985.


The United States is one country that has experienced an increase in Argentine immigration flows over the last decade (see Table 2), with over 60 percent living in just three states: California, Florida, and New York. The majority of permanent immigrants enter under family reunification provisions, whereas most temporary immigrants (not shown in Table 2) enter the United States as specialty workers (H-1B visa), exchange visitors (J-1 visa), and intracompany transferees (L-1 visa).


A strong foreign labor demand and favorable citizenship policies in Spain and Italy — applicable to Argentines who can prove Spanish or Italian ancestry — help explain why these countries also receive a large proportion of Argentine immigrants and Latin American immigrants in general. Argentina’s relatively unstable economy and the European Union (EU) policy granting citizens free movement within EU territory have further promoted this trend.


In 2004, 157,323 native-born Argentines were living in Spain, up from 64,020 in 1999. In Italy, the stock of Argentine citizens nearly doubled in the period 1999-2003, from 5,725 to 11,266.


Canada has also seen a marked increase in Argentine immigration: up from 455 permanent residents in 2000 to 1,783 in 2003. More significantly perhaps, Argentina has risen in the ranks of top Latin American source countries to Canada — from 13th to 5th in that same time period.


Remittances to Latin America make up nearly one-third of the world’s total share. Although remittance flows to Argentina are not among the region’s largest, their significance continues to grow.


According to the National Migration Directorate, remittances to Argentina reached $724 million in 2004, triple the 2001 figure. Some of this growth is attributable to improved calculation methods, but remittances to Argentina — as in the rest of the region — have increased remarkably. Remittances are used for a combination of basic needs, debt repayment, and investment purposes, although their primary uses in Argentina have not been thoroughly studied.

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