Argentina's constitution promises open borders. Its preamble riffs on national unity, justice, peace, and to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves, to our posterity, and to all men of the world who wish to dwell on Argentine soil."
However, President Mauricio Macri recently joined the growing ranks of world leaders who are restricting their borders. At the end of January, the president issued an executive order that targeted migrants in Argentina, many of whom come from poorer South American countries like Bolivia.
Macri's new law prevents people with criminal records from coming into the country, makes deportations of criminals more effective and prohibits the entry of foreign nationals with previous involvement in drug or human trafficking. The law also gives immigrants facing deportation a week to get a defense to file an appeal, whereas previous measures granted 30 days and the right to a lawyer.
Macri cited security concerns as the main reason for the new law.
"I am the son of an immigrant, we all are and we need to continue welcoming people that want to come work here, but we are not going to allow for crime to keep rising in Argentina because of a lack of action," he said in a press conference.
Regardless, many criticized Macri for making an immediate connection between high crime rates and foreigners. According to Spanish newspaper El País, this parallel doesn't align with Argentina's reality. Only 6 percent of convicted felons in the country are not Argentine. Opposition parties have called the new law xenophobic and unconstitutional, relating it to President Trump's similar immigration plans.
However, Carla Bertaux, a Bolivian and a USC junior studying international relations, doesn't consider Macri's law to be discriminatory because it only targets people with criminal records and she's not worried for her Bolivian family that currently resides in Argentina.
"I don't think this will affect the countries' relationships with one another," she said. "The Bolivian government is sending a committee to Argentina to make sure that everything runs smoothly. I don't think this is as extreme as Trump's [policies]."
Although the new law had many Argentines comparing their president to Trump, Marina Peña, an Argentine junior majoring in journalism and economics at USC, said there are little similarities between them.
"I've never heard Macri denounce these people as rapists, criminals, or even unwelcome [in] the country, " she said. "He's made minor changes and policies, what [he] wants to do is make it tougher for criminals to come in, but Argentina's constitution is already set up: the country is free for all of its citizens and any immigrant that wants to live on Argentine soil."
Gerardo Munck, professor of international relations and political science at USC, says the policies were enacted to create a safer country after recent increases in crime and drug trade.
"It's a conservative government, and this is an opportunistic policy," he said. "It's the same argument we hear in the USA. But [in Argentina], you get free education, free public health, so there's an economic cost, that's the side of the government. But critics say this is racist because it targets a specific group of people: darker, indigenous, and poor."
Munck said that although the timing of Macri's policy coincided with Trump's, the Argentine president is not nearly as controversial.
"In terms of political style, [Macri] is not unpredictable, he is not a populist. Even though they both come from business backgrounds, Macri has been in politics for years. He is not as surprising, he's much more subdued," Munck said.
Additionally, Munck said President Macri has been much more civil with neighboring countries than Trump. Although Bolivian President Evo Morales initially criticized Macri's new immigration law, he assured the people of Bolivia that this wasn't going to affect the relationship with Argentina.
"I am confident that President Macri and I will work together for our sister countries," he tweeted on February 2nd.
On the other hand, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled his visit to the White House following Trump's proposal of building a wall and seeking a 20 percent import tax.
Munck says this polite relationship has kept the tension between Bolivia and Argentina more controlled than that between Mexico and the United States. He said the new immigration law will most likely not affect relations between countries in South America, but rather Trump will unite them as they try to find a way to fight the threat.