Mexico: the refuge of Central American migrants

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The arrival of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to power has taken a turn to the Mexican immigration policy that has mainly benefited Central American migrants

Mexico: the refuge of Central American migrants

Since October of 2018 – and mid-January 2019 – Mexico began to receive the United States caravans of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Mexico has played a leading role in this process, since it is the first country where the migrants arrive and the alternative of many of them due to the impossibility of reaching the United States, due to the policies of President Donald Trump.

Leer en español: México: el refugio de los migrantes centroamericanos

However, what is currently happening in Mexico a few months ago was completely different, considering that the immigration policy of Enrique Peña Nieto resulted in abuses and persecution against Central American migrants, very similar to Trump's actions, especially since launched the zero-tolerance policy.

You can also read: Hate: The high price of being a migrant in the United States

In that sense, Mexico's migration policy has not only taken a complete turn, but, with the actions derived from it, has set the stage for this country to become the refuge of Central American migrants, who have found protection there , shelter and opportunities, a reality opposed to the one that forced them to flee their countries of origin.

A new vision for the migratory problem:

This is not a minor issue, because while Trump's position and speech become more radical and aggressive every day – to the point of accusing the Mexican government of "sending migrants to the border with their country" – the President López Obrador has emphasized the need to offer humanitarian aid and all the support that as a State can give to Central American migrants.

According to BBC Mundo, in states such as Chiapas – where most migrants enter – and Tijuana – on the northwest border – the authorities have provided shelters where migrants are offered food and assistance. On the other hand, in Mexico City, in addition to the shelters, migrants have access to public transportation and other benefits. To this is added the work that social and humanitarian organizations – among which the United Nations – have done, managing transportation to other states in the country.

"We must give protection to migrants, we have to guarantee their human rights and that is what has been done, there are those who are registering with the National Institute of Migration (INM), this is very important to serve them better, defend them and to respect their human rights, "explained López Obrador, quoted by BBC.

All actions in favor of Central American migrants are coordinated and executed through the INM, which has delivered a total of 12,061 visitor cards for humanitarian reasons to these people. It is worth saying that these cards are documents that facilitate access to the services and humanitarian aid offered by the Mexican government.


You can also read: Venezuela: A smokescreen in Latin America

Why Mexico?

On the occasion of the caravan of migrants, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Mexico conducted monitoring to identify the protection needs of Central Americans who have arrived in this country. The monitoring was done between January 21 and 25, days after a new migrant caravan left San Pedro Sula (Honduras).

The monitoring determined the causes by which migrants leave their countries, with violence being the main one, considering that of all the interviewees, 63% indicated that they left their country of origin because they had been victims of violence, or, for the fear that this violence produces. Similarly, 70% said that returning to their country would face a risk to their life, integrity or freedom and that they would be at risk from violence.

"These findings allow us to see that most of the people who are entering the country through this border, either in large groups or in small groups, have protection needs as refugees since they have left their countries due to situations of violence or persecution. Thus, it is very important to strengthen efforts with the authorities to provide protection to these people. It is urgent to strengthen the asylum system, "said Mark Manly, UNHCR representative in Mexico.

The monitored migrants are distributed as follows: 75% are from Honduras, 13% from Guatemala, 9% from El Salvador and 3% from Nicaragua.

If the causes of migration and the turn that Mexico has made to its migration policy are taken into account, it is explained why every time Central American migrants prefer to stay in Mexico and relocate somewhere in the country; they continue on their way to the United States. , where the risks to their integrity and xenophobia, increase every day due to the determinations of the Donald Trump government:

"The monitoring shows that 46% of people prefer to relocate within Mexico, while 30% would like to go to another country, mainly the United States. It also lets us see that both the inequality in the region and the situations of violence, they lead people to seek some protection that allows them to have a different horizon than they have lived. In this group there are girls, boys, women, and people in a situation of vulnerability who need clear information, humanitarian assistance and protection from the authorities, so that they can make decisions regarding the mobility they live in, "said Gerardo Talavera, general director of the Casa Refugiados Program, which operates in Mexico City.


The change López Obrador gave to Mexico's migration policy sets a precedent in Latin America, which contrasts with the actions of the United States and those carried out by some South American governments with Venezuelan migrants, inciting xenophobia and the stigmatization of these people.


LatinAmerican Post | Samuel Augusto Gallego Suárez

Translated from "México: el refugio de los migrantes centroamericanos"

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