Anti-foreigner proposal signed by 25,743

DEPUTY Rodriguez takes populist stance

2,115Views 0Comments Posted 16/07/2019

Lawmaker Zulay Rodríguez 's proposal to  reform immigration legislation has ignited a heated debate, which demonstrates more the need to reform Panamanian politics than the urgency of correcting immigration regulations.

The move  seeks to include foreigners benefited by extraordinary regularization processes in a rigid system of controls, fines, and finally deportation. It includes a proposal to deport foreigners who insult Panamanian nationality.

Although parts of the project may clash with the Panamanian Constitution and international conventions, this has not mattered to the 25,743 signers on the Internet who offered their support to the project.

In this way, Panama enters the same scenario from Hungary to the United States: to be wary of foreigners reports La Prensa

Since the  Political Constitution  of 1941, which established prohibited migration races and deprived foreigners of civil rights, Panama had not faced such an intense controversy over a migratory legal norm, so far by the proposal presented by the lawyer and deputy vice-president of the National Assembly, Zulay Rodríguez  says Rodrigo Noriega

The eight-page document has an explanatory statement that promised more than the the 21-article proposal contains.

The first thing to say is that the article lacks legal systematics, since the usual when enunciating modifications to an existing law is to follow the numerical order of the norm that is intended to be modified. In this proposal, the articles that modify Decree Law 3 of 2008 organized by the National Migration Service jump from major to minor without a clear order. It also repeats unnecessarily the articles to repeal the executive decrees that supported the regularization of migration.

The proposal seeks to fill a "void" referring specifically to foreigners who benefited from massive regularization processes. Although it includes rules applicable to all foreigners residing in Panama, its main focus is those regulated by the Martinelli and Varela administrations.

The project contains some innocuous modifications, others more worrisome, and some specifically contrary to the  Political Constitution  and international human rights conventions of which Panama is a signatory.

An example of this is: "Those foreigners who publicly express offenses and insults to the Panamanian nationality ..." will be objects of deportation proceedings. This is the modification that Article 13 of the proposal makes to Article 65 of Decree Law 3 of 2008. Apart from the extremely subjective that is to define an offense, this enters into direct violation with Article 37 of our  Political Constitution  (freedom of expression), article 19 of the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights  and article 13 of the  American Convention on Human Rights , all on freedom of expression.

Article 5 of the bill requires that in six months from the enactment of the law, foreigners benefiting from extraordinary regularizations have a series of public and private documents, such as proof of payment of public services, work permits, declare income that proves that they have an address, that they have income at least equal to the minimum wage and that they pay the corresponding taxes.

According to the proposal, a Migration Unit for Field Action (UMAC) is assigned the main powers to receive, analyze, study, verify and validate the documents and facts declared by foreigners. There is no due process or transparent grievance mechanisms that guarantee the affected party that these procedures will be fair.

Bad joke

Although the proposal has controversial articles, one in particular seems a bad joke: Article 11 requires the Office of the Comptroller General to audit the funds received by the processes of migratory regularization and that this audit be published.

This is in contrast to the practice of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, including the proponent [Rodriguez].

 Panama needs a migratory reform that eliminates corruption and arbitrariness, and that establishes a due process with migratory judges and ex officio defenders that guarantee full rights to foreigners who face the migratory system.

It is important to punish abusive employers, as well as the t beneficiaries of the commercial sexual exploitation so openly practiced in the country. The saddest thing of all is that you miss the opportunity to make a good reform for the game of demagogy says Npriega.

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