Direccion General de Inmigracion

Date: 1912
Owner: Museo de la Policia de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, La Plata
Source Type: Images


This form, titled "Description of the Immigrant," was implemented by Argentina's immigration service in 1912 in order to compile a database of information on new immigrants in an era when Europeans (largely from Southern Europe) flocked to Argentina in great numbers. The required information on this card included age, nationality, skin color, height, and a space for fingerprints (bottom right). Fingerprinting was useful for stopping known criminals at the border as well as entering potential offenders or disruptive radicals, especially anarchists, into the government's database.

Yet the scientific compilation of information on new immigrants sent a more fundamental message to new arrivals: it warned them that they were subordinate to the state and being monitored. The goals of such efforts, according to information in the "immigrant's book" (a sort of passport given to recent arrivals) was to assimilate foreigners with the Argentine state. Immigrants were required to carry this card, the "Description of the Immigrant," with them at all times in order to be granted protection under Argentine law.

CITATION: Rodriguez, Julia. "Immigration ID." in "South Atlantic Crossings: Fingerprints, Science, and the State in Turn-of-the-Century Argentina." American Historical Review. vol. 109, no. 2: April 2004. pg. 412. Source: "Resolucion No. 292," miscellaneous folder Archivio Vucetich, Museo de la Policia de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, La Plata.