The recent approval of new migration legislation recognises the rights of migrants. Law 18.250 repeals the 1936 “Foreigners Act” (“Ley de extranjeros”) and related provisions, in which prevailed a national security and selective immigration approach.
The new law is harmonious with international standards on the matter incorporating the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Their Family Members, ratified by Uruguay on February 15, 2001.
From the first article the inalienable rights of migrant persons and their family members are recognised, establishing that “The Uruguayan State recognises as an inalienable right of migrant persons and their family members without prejudice of their migration status, the right to migrate, the right to family reunification, due process and access to justice, as well as equality of rights with nationals, without any distinction whatsoever by reasons of sex, race, colour, language, religion or belief, political opinion or of other nature, national origin, ethnicity or society, nationality, age, economic status, heritage, civil status, birth, or any other condition.”
In the Constitution of Uruguay, an explicit reference to egalitarian protection for foreigners before the law does not exist; however, it has been interpreted that equality and the principle of non-discrimination applies to both nationals and foreigners. Also the right to work is recognised, although in constitutional Article 53, a preference for nationals in the labour market is established. Furthermore, the UruguayanState’s obligation to attain social and economic integration of Latin American States is recognised, as well as the recourses to intervene in decisions made by public administration organisations.