The Argentine government proposed to increase fines to $100,000, and jail terms of up to six years, for employers who hire illegal foreign workers.
There are 800,000 to one million foreigners working illegally in Argentina. Most are from neighboring countries, including perhaps 500,000 Bolivians, and foreign workers are maids, construction, or agricultural workers.
Argentina has a 16 percent unemployment rate, and many experts believe that the government is scapegoating immigrants. Some note that only four percent of the residents of greater Buenos Aires are foreigners, but 20 percent are internal migrants desperate for jobs. Many employers prefer to hire workers who will work outside the social security system--up to one third of Argentina's employment is outside the social security system.
Several high ranking members of Uruguay's immigration service were fired in January for smuggling Chinese immigrants to Argentina.
"Argentina eyes tough penalties for firms that hire illegal workers," Agence France Presse, February 14, 1996. "Uruguayans fired for immigrant traffic," UPI, January 18, 1996.