AMERICA/ARGENTINA - Alarm over the trafficking of Russian women who emigrate to Argentina to give birth

Saturday, 18 February 2023

Buenos Aires (Agenzia Fides) - "I am leaving for Argentina. We help people to move to Argentina, obtain permanent residence and passport, which opens visa-free entry to 170 countries around the world", announced website, which offers a package that includes accommodation in Buenos Aires, medical assistance, help with a translator and document management, among other services for pregnant women.
Currently, the main recipients are pregnant Russian women who are being 'encouraged' to flee the war that has been between the populations of Russia and Ukraine for a year.
According to a survey carried out by the national Migrations organization, there is an organization which, "in exchange for a large sum of money, offers pregnant Russian women a tourist package for childbirth with their Argentine passport as the main reason for travel". Many future mothers began to arrive en masse in the Latin American country in the second half of 2022, months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This tragic context is also fueling corruption abroad. Argentine national law allows foreigners who have an Argentine child to obtain permanent residence immediately, while two years of uninterrupted residence in the country are required to obtain citizenship.
The issue broke out last Wednesday, February 8 and Thursday, February 9, when the immigration authorities detained six pregnant Russian women who had just landed at Ezeiza International Airport, on charges of being 'false tourists'. The six women presented a habeas corpus, which establishes the principle of personal inviolability, and on Friday, February 10 a federal judge ordered that they be allowed to enter the country, after spending, in some cases, more than 48 hours on a chair at the airport. "One thing is the human trafficking networks, that make false promises in exchange for large sums of money, and quite another thing is the right of women to enter Argentina and have their children here. They are victims", explained the lawyer of three of the six women detained at the airport.
On the same night of Friday 10, shortly after the court ruling, 33 Russian citizens between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant arrived in Buenos Aires on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa.
"Of the 985 deliveries we witnessed in 2022, 85 were Russian women, 37 in December alone. This trend still continues", said the head of the Maternal and Child Youth Department of the Fernández Hospital, one of the most recognized public health centers in Buenos Aires.
The country's public health centers care for patients free of charge, regardless of whether or not they have Argentine documents. "We do not ask them how they got to Argentina, but it is clear that there is an organization behind it," added the director.
As reported by the National Migrations Director, 10,500 people of Russian nationality entered Argentina in 2022 and 5,819 of them were pregnant women. Victims are lured with the promise that once they give birth in Argentina, they and their husbands, as parents, will be able to obtain citizenship in a short time.
"Obtaining citizenship involves a difficult process that takes many years," reports the coordinator of the Migrant and Refugee Program of the National Institute against Discrimination (INADI). If organizations promise Russian women a passport within a few months, they are lying or there is some kind of corruption behind it".
"They do not come to Argentina as immigrants, to work and seek a better future, as many Russians have done in different waves of immigration. The ticket from Russia to Argentina alone costs about $3,000", explained the director of the Coordination Council of Organizations of Russian Compatriots in Argentina, which brings together 23 community institutions from all over the country. Born in Argentina and the daughter of a Ukrainian father and a Russian mother, says that those who arrive in the Latin American country are people of good economic position who take advantage of the opening of Argentina to receive foreigners.
The judge has ordered the opening of criminal proceedings to investigate whether there is an organization that promotes the arrival of pregnant Russian women and defrauds them.
Argentina is a country that fed on European migratory waves from the end of the 19th century to the mid-20th century, respecting the rights of migrants in their citizenship and legislation, considering itself a land of welcome for foreigners in situations of helplessness, as had happened in recent years with Venezuelans arriving en masse. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 18/2/2023)