“Tania” left Guatemala with the purpose of reaching the United States. His wish was to live far from domestic violence, get a job and improve the quality of life for his two children, however his American dream ended up being frustrated and for years he has remained on Mexican soil.
“Tania” has a humanitarian visa that Mexico granted her. Before getting it, he had to face a whole ordeal: going through several countries, being a victim of xenophobia, suffering an attempted rape, feeling stalked by organized crime and making payments and payments.
Although his destiny was to reach the United States, he did not make it, so Mexico has become his only option not to return to Guatemala. Just like “Tania”, thousands of migrants have seen the “American dream” frustrated, and have chosen to remain in Mexican territory.
Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, Haitians, Cubans, Nicaraguans, Ecuadorians and now hundreds of Venezuelans are trapped in the bottleneck that Mexico has become.
The National Institute of Migration (INM) has a record of an increase in migrants with irregular status in Mexico. Between January 1 and August 31, 2021, 147,033 foreign citizens were identified in that condition. This figure is three times higher than the same period in 2020 when 48,398 were located on Mexican soil.
In the year 2021, a number of asylum applications also broke. A total of 129,844 migrants filed their petition with the Mexican Commission Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid (Comar).
According to migration experts consulted, Mexico has become a funnel for migrants.
“Mexico became a funnel country or filter country. They are manifestations of what is called the externalization of borders, that is, the United States border is running more and more to the south in an attempt to inhibit irregular crossings”, explains Rafael Alonso Hernández López, a researcher at the Department of Studies Social of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (Colef).
The threat launched in May 2019 by President Donald Trump to tax 5% on imports of Mexican products caused Mexico to end up deploying thousands of National Guard elements on its borders.
The operations to stop migrants began with the support of 10,000 elements of the corporation, but it has been increasing; Until this October 20, there were 31,607 security elements in that area, 6% more than the 29,607 there were until last September.
Mexico receives thousands of expelled from the US
After that episode, the containment of migrants from Mexico has continued and in the almost four years of the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, support has increased to stop migration, for example, an agreement was reached with the United States to receive undocumented Central Americans who managed to step on American lands, but who were deported.
Under the “Stay in Mexico” program or MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols), created in the Donald Trump administration, thousands of migrant asylum seekers were returned to Mexico while they waited for a court in the United States to resolve their request.
Between January 2019 and January 2021 alone, it is estimated that more than 70,000 asylum seekers were returned to Mexico.
Title 42 is another tool with which the United States has managed to deport thousands of migrants. Since it was launched, in March 2020 and until August 2022, of the 4 million 141,794 arrests, 2 million 269,503 (54%) were under that title.
In recent months, Mexico has agreed with the United States to receive deportees from three countries, in addition to its own citizens: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Last May it also agreed to host a limited number of Cubans and Nicaraguans.
Starting this October, Mexico also agreed to receive Venezuelan citizens after the entry into force of a new immigration measure, through which a humanitarian visa will be given to those who meet requirements such as entering by plane and having a family member support them while is in that country.
The northern border of the country could be exceeded. In that area of the country there are thousands of foreigners who have not been able to enter the United States or have already been deported.
Hernández López explains that both public and private services will not be enough given the number of migrants who require a place to live, employment, access to health and education.
“The border is a concentrating space for both those who have been rising and those who have come down by force. The scenario is not at all encouraging because this hostile response through expulsion only generates chaos and meager conditions for people”, he maintains.
The Human Right Watch organization spoke out against the way in which the United States has pressured Mexico and in which the Mexican government has responded against migrants.
“The United States must restore access to asylum at its border and stop pressuring Mexico to clamp down on migration. Mexico must guarantee that Comar has the necessary funds and that asylum seekers can present their requests at border crossings and detention centers,” reads a report that also indicates that Mexico has 17 pesos per each migrant to process a humanitarian visa.
Mexico, scenario of different crises
Since 2018, the migratory phenomenon has rebounded. In caravans or in small groups, migrants have chosen to cross Mexico to reach the United States.
“The previous migration crisis was of Guatemalans, later Haitians, Cubans, Hondurans and now Venezuelans, which means that Mexico should have already learned that it needs to take action to address these waves, the only thing that has changed is nationality,” he says. Alma Guadarrama Muñoz, expert in international law and researcher at La Salle University.
Due to these migratory waves, in Mexico there are migrants of different nationalities. According to the INM, in 2021, 130,269 migrants were deported, of which 96% were citizens of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
That year, Venezuelans hardly figured among the deportations made by Mexico. In 2021, 371 were returned to their country of origin, a figure that in eight months of 2022 was already exceeded. Between January and August, there are 466 deported Venezuelans.
“We are going to continue to have this type of crisis, tomorrow it will be the Colombians, and the day after tomorrow it will surely be the Brazilians,” adds Guadarrama Muñoz.