LN – The “invisible” boys: what it is like to grow up without an ID in Argentina


Although the process has been facilitated in recent years, there are still many children and young people without ID; as Aaron, who only at 19 achieved a document certificate in process Credit: Patricio Pidal / AFV

Until the age of 19, Aaron did not have a National Identity Document (DNI).
It was not lost or stolen, never had. His parents did not register him at birth and the State did not take care of finding him.
Was invisible.

On his way through primary and secondary school, there were only worthless diplomas, which his teachers prepared for him to receive something on the day of the collation. “In elementary school, in Parque Chacabuco, I was asked for the DNI but my mother was lying. The secondary one, in Flores, I was doing it with the promise that I would take the document. At 17, a tutor was very concerned about the issue and He gave me the phone number of
Microjusticia Argentina, an organization that helped me to process it, “says Aaron Samaniego Tito, while proudly holding the document certificate in process.

There are not many figures on how many children and adolescents live without ID in Argentina. According to a UNICEF investigation, carried out in 2017, 2.4% of births registered in 2014 were neither registered nor documented. There are about 20,000 boys who would be starting first grade today. It is not known how many of them remain invisible to the State.

The specialists consulted by LA NACION, believe that while improving the legislation that facilitates access to the document,
The lack of a national registry that centralizes the information shows that there is a long way to go to prevent many from being left out.

In this sense, Alejandra Martínez, lawyer and president of Microjusticia, a foundation that facilitates access to justice for the most vulnerable population, states crudely: “There are almost 1,000,000 Argentines who are not registered. They do not travel, they cannot go to hospitals, they can’t have a SUBE. “

After 10 years of investigating the issue, Martínez says that “they survive every day and get used to living like this.
They work in black and ‘discard’ them when they don’t work anymore. Invisibility facilitates trafficking and exploitation. There are always abusers behind undocumented people“.

There are almost 1,000,000 Argentines who are not registered. They don’t travel, they can’t go to hospitals, they can’t have a SUBE

Alejandra Martínez, Argentine Microjustice

Birth registration constitutes the first act of legal recognition of the child’s existence and it is essential to make all his rights effective, from having an identity to being able to receive Universal Assignment by Child (AUH). From Unicef, they affirm that “the lack of birth registration stimulates an exclusionary society, exclusive of rights that induces vulnerability and exploitation of the child population.”

Aaron’s case confirms it. His first trip outside the city of Buenos Aires could only be made a month ago to go to visit his grandmother who lives in Jujuy, when he had the certificate of the procedure. I didn’t know what a bus or a plane was. “At school I missed all the excursions and could not do the internships offered by companies in recent years. When I went to Quilmes to visit my mother, the police stopped me at the La Noria Bridge and asked me for the document. I I always explained the same thing to them and they held me an hour or two until they let me go. To go to my alumni party I needed the lawyers who processed my document to give me a record, “the young man details.
Although he asked why he had no ID, his parents never explained the cause very well.

The story of Aaron, who is 19 years old and his ID in process


“There is a very strong prejudice that people do not register because of laziness, criminal records or illegal migration. It is a myth. People do not register, in most cases, because it belongs to the poorest and most vulnerable band of the country, with a greater presence of teenage mothers, of low education, lack of resources and precarious employment, “says Martínez, who from Microjusticia and with the UN, made a report of next publication, on the late registration of births in Argentina and its consequences.

For these reasons, the lawyer explains that
Do not blame these families and that social prejudice must also be demolished among those who work in the civil registries and courts.

Access issue

Argentina is governed by Law 26,413 on Civil Status and Capacity of Persons, of 2008. Although it is national in nature, each province dictates its own regulations and instructions. There is no established supervision or coordination mechanism for the exchange of data between provincial authorities and the National Registry of Persons (Renaper).
Nor is there a national base with information on registered births.

The deadlines for administrative registration were, initially, 40 calendar days, then it was extended to one year and in 2009, by presidential decree, it became 12 years. In 2019 it was extended to 18 years, because the operations and social programs showed that there were thousands of cases of undocumented children.

After the age of 18, it can only be obtained with a judicial resolution, a process of many years that involves hiring a lawyer, obtaining documentation, having witnesses, getting a medical check-up to verify gender and age and facing very high economic costs for this undocumented population that It belongs to the poorest and most vulnerable fringes in the country.

“If you don’t have an ID, you’re nobody,” says Marisol Alarcón, 23, and mother a 2-year-old girl. Live in La Matanza and benefit from the arrival of the El Estado program in your neighborhood. With the advice of the Open Institute for the Development and Study of Public Policies (Iadepp), she managed to obtain her ID when her daughter was a few months old. He had tried to do it many times, but the civil registration schedules, the documentation required, the costs of each trip and the obstacles that were put on him expired.

If you don’t have an ID, you are nobody

Marisol Alarcón, 23 years old

“They sent me from one office to the other, they asked me for several documents and I didn’t have them,” says Marisol.
He always worked in “black” in several textile workshops that took advantage of his situation and exploited it. “Now I’m going to rectify my daughter’s birth certificate so that my document number appears where NN says today,” he adds.

Why families do not process the ID of their sons and daughters? Some of the reasons, according to specialists, are: insufficient information, since many campaigns do not reach a part of the population; remoteness and lack of access to organisms, as well as shortage of resources of the latter; lack of articulation between maternity and intervening organisms; arbitrariness of civil registries, lack of regulation and uniform criteria.

Iadepp was born on Christmas Eve 2001, when Jorge Alvarez Nuñez shared a dinner in the La Cava neighborhood in San Isidro and detected “that there were people who were at the side of society” and felt the need to do something. “The only solution is for the State to facilitate access to the document. People cannot be held responsible. Civil registries must be more flexible, understand people, their times, their context, their history. They must have more social sensitivity.” holds.

Brenda González lives in Moreno, is 26 years old and has two children aged 10 and 3. None of them had a document until, in 2018, also with Iadepp, the process began. “I didn’t want them to go through what I went through. I never had a blank job or access to the AUH for my children. I attended elementary and secondary school without a document because the principal of the school was from the neighborhood,” he says.

When Brenda was going to have pregnancy checks, the document was claimed in the hospital, but she, like thousands of undocumented women, apologized, promised, kept silent and went on. That situation also kept them out of many programs that would help them have a better quality of life for themselves and their families.

Official sources of Renaper, say they will renew the decree that extends the registration period to 18 years and will continue with all programs that ensure inclusion and access to rights. Before the consultation on public policies to be implemented to facilitate access to identity, they assured that they cannot advance that information until after March 1, when President Alberto Fernández presents his government plan in the National Congress.

“The Ministry of the Interior began, years ago, a strong process with the technological revolution of the DNI and with mobile units that bring it closer to the people. This summer we made about 40,000 documents throughout the country and that will continue to expand because we want ensure the right to identity, “they said.

Some of the rights violated by people without ID are: they cannot access social security benefits such as Universal Child Allowance or disability assistance, among others; schools cannot grant them diplomas or certificates of completed courses, they must register them; in some hospitals, they do not receive treatments; They cannot travel in long-distance buses, use airplanes or leave the country.

Milagros next to Cloe, his daughter
Milagros next to Cloe, his daughter Source: LA NACION – Credit: Mauro Alfieri

Milagros Elizabeth Martínez did not know what it was to work in white,
go on a trip or go to the hospital without complaints. She left secondary school at age 15, a little tired of going through school without a document and suffering discrimination for everything she could not do because she was undocumented.

Like Aaron, his parents could not explain why not
they had registered. At age 19 he met the program Guarantee Your Identity, which was carried out by the Iadepp Foundation together with the government of the province of Buenos Aires, and facilitated its processing.

“When I had my daughter, I didn’t have my document yet. They wrote it down with the last name that appeared on the card of the social work that she used to help me. Now I am processing the rectification of her birth certificate so that my name appears correctly on her ID “, explains Milagros, who is 22 years old.

That is just one of the reasons why many babies are not enrolled. Their mothers assume that by not having their ID, they cannot do so, unaware that this is not an impediment. For the experts consulted, this is a product of the lack of information and advice that records, schools and hospitals should give to these parents.

Milagros today is thinking about studying hairdressing and finding a blank job. A new world opened for her and her daughter. They go to the hospital without having to make excuses and all the necessary checks can be made. She has the SUBE and has already scored her daughter in the kindergarten of her neighborhood, where room 3 will begin. She dreams of making a trip together in the future, without the obstacles she lived during her childhood

From the National Ombudsman’s Office, the area of ​​Identity and Citizenship in charge of Soledad Patané has been working for a long time so that the 2020 Census includes the question if people have ID. “We have been advising legislators for a long time to include the precepts of post-law decrees, which extend the registration period administratively up to 18 years, so that we do not have to depend on the Executive to renew it every year. Many people call the Ombudsman to ask us how to obtain their document and that shows that people want to do it, but the State does not provide it, “Patané explains, in line with Iadepp and Microjusticia.

Aaron is very close to receiving his document.
He dreams of working in white and being able to go to college. He really likes acting and theater and plans to enter the National University of the Arts (UNA) to study drama. His mother died, but the young man says he would be very happy to see him progress that way. She had tried to register him before 2008, when he was little, but at that time it was necessary to make a judgment that cost money and took a long time. His family could not face it. Today everything was faster and more accessible thanks to the new laws in force and the help of the organizations that work to help return violated rights.

Teachers on alert

The school and the hospital are the first alarms. Although health and education are fundamental rights, the lack of a document limits access to them. María Eugenia Mamani is a 7th grade teacher 10 years ago at the Army of the North School, in the city of Perico, Jujuy. She has to give the diplomas and gather the documentation for the certificate of studies that students will need to present to attend high school.

In 2017, María Eugenia urged one of her students to bring her document and she brought her her vaccination certificate. “I called the mother and she confessed to me that she had no document and that she could not write down her children. She did not know her rights, which happens with many more people even if they live far from the media,” says María Eugenia. That situation motivated her to seek help and she met with Microjusticia Argentina, the foundation that brought the Renaper to school.
There they verified that there were many more cases like that of that student and facilitated the regularization of the documentation of more than 276 boys of the town.

In the town of Merlo, province of Buenos Aires, another teacher tells a similar story. Alejandra Martines is retired as principal, after 39 years of work, but continues to work as a high school teacher. “The subject of the documents always worried me, the fact that they had no identity led me to talk to the moms to know where they were born and went to the hospitals to locate the birth certificates. I was looking for all the documentation of those children who were coming passing his years of schooling without being anyone for the law, “he explains.

Upon retirement he began working at the Ministry of Education of Merlo and presented a project on undocumented children to work from the municipal government.
“There were always undocumented children. I was wondering why there was no one to worry about that, why the State had no interference, why they didn’t make a file,” he says. He describes that many moms have their children in their homes, lose their papers, move a lot, live in places that are flooded or very wet and end up losing documentation. “Since I entered the secretariat, more than 200 already have the document done,” says Alejandra.



Publicado en el diario La Nación