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Puerto Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit 

Mexico Can’t Handle Your Tired, Poor, and Huddled Masses

Maya Averbuch - Foreign Policy
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July 31, 2018

A growing number of migrants from Latin America are stopping well short of their intended destinations in the United States. With the Trump administration cracking down on crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, many are looking for refuge further south. (CGTN America)

Related: The Trump Administration Is Making Asylum Seekers Camp Out at Bridges. Now Advocates Say Mexico Is Removing Some of Them. (Mother Jones)

At midnight, the immigrants outside the gate of the local office of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance know that only the first arrivals will get past the security guard in the morning. They prepare to buy gum, cigarettes, or breakfast pupusas - a traditional Salvadoran stuffed dough - from those who have made a business out of serving those waiting. Once they register, they will have weeks before the first interview. In the interim, some bring their children to sleep in the central park, while others make their way to local shelters.

The experience of these migrants is now at the center of a debate in Washington. In recent months, the U.S. administration led by President Donald Trump has spoken of officially designating Mexico a “safe third country” for asylum-seekers, giving it a role akin to that of Canada. The terminology surfaced in Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s statements on the refugee caravan in April, in Mexico-U.S. negotiations in May, and in the Securing America’s Future Act voted down in the House in June.

The debate isn’t merely semantic. A change in Mexico’s status would, for instance, permit the United States to turn away many of the hundreds of thousands of people who submitted asylum applications in the United States last year, requiring those who arrived at the southern border to first submit applications in Mexico instead. It’s a proposal that some U.S. policymakers say makes sense because, over the past five years, a growing number of migrants have started to apply for refugee status in Mexico.

Claims that Mexico is a safe country by any conventional measure are dubious: Crime statistics show that 2017 was Mexico’s deadliest year on record, and Mexicans themselves still rank among the most common asylum applicants in the United States. (President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador was voted in, in part, on the promise of reducing migration to the United States by improving conditions for Mexicans at home.)

What has received less attention, however, is whether Mexico, despite its emerging status as a destination for other migrants, is truly capable of receiving them. Once a country of transit, Mexico is already buckling under the demands of its new reality. Although its government had once styled itself as a progressive defender of refugees, some immigrants are discovering that the country isn’t nearly as welcoming to its neighbors in need as its rhetoric suggests.

“It’s not that Mexico has decided to take more people,” said Irazú Gomez, a coordinator with the migrant defense organization Sin Fronteras. “People are arriving regardless, even if there is no political will.” The problem, she said, is that last year, “the system collapsed.”

Read the rest at Foreign Policy

Related: The U.S. Should Work with Mexico to Stem Central American Migration (National Review)

Related: Half of the Young People from Poor Central American Neighbourhoods Want to Migrate (Inter Press Service)

Related: Children of Undocumented Mexicans Retrace Parents' Steps in Reverse (Channel NewsAsia)

Related: Deported by Trump, Migrants Press Mexican President-Elect for Support (Truthout)

Related: The Global Migration Plan That Every UN Country Agreed to — Except the US and Hungary (Quartz)

Related: Canada Is Using Ancestry DNA Websites to Help It Deport People (VICE News)

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