The lack of resources of the immigration authorities deepens the crisis in Mexico

Paul and Rosmery sold their house in Venezuela to reach the United States. Ángela, Carlos and their son Axel paid more than $3,000 in Panama to reach Mexico City. His biggest fear was returning to the starting block with nothing. The latest statistics bulletin from the National Migration Institute (INM) indicates that Mexico accelerated deportations in October, the month in which the Latin American migration summit was held. This Tuesday, the institution revealed that there was no budget to continue with the returns. But there are also no resources in the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar), in charge of regularizing the situation of migrants in the country. Two situations that deepen the crisis of thousands of migrants in Mexico.

On October 7, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Mexico to meet with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, to discuss the massive arrival of migrants at the border between both countries. On October 13, López Obrador confirmed a meeting with 11 Latin American countries in Palenque, Chiapas, to address the causes of the mass exodus from the south. The leaders signed an agreement to respect the right of people to migrate.

That same month the worst nightmare of thousands of people came true. Data published at the end of November in the INM statistics bulletin revealed that 8,155 people were deported to their countries of origin in October, a level not seen since Mexico returned more than 11,000 people in March. 97% were returned to Honduras, Guatemala and Cuba, countries that attended the Latin American summit.

The big problem is that the rights of migrants are often violated in the process. Gretchen Kuhner, director of the Institute for Women in Migration, accuses the lack of transparency in deportations. “There is a lot of opacity. We don’t know who these people are. Most likely, no one has done an evaluation of their protection needs, to which they are entitled in Mexico,” she denounces.

In 2022, a study by the NGO Sin Fronteras clarified the case of 22 people who were deported when they had already been granted refugee status in Mexico. A violation of rights that may be greater, since the NGO was not able to cover all the cases of people recognized as refugees.

Wendy Castro, deputy coordinator of the legal area of ​​Sin Fronteras, reminds us of the requirements that must be met to be able to deport a person. “Migrants may require consular representation to know what the procedure is like. And the INM must also give information to people on how to stay in the country on a regular basis,” she explains. Sin Fronteras has numerous cases in which these rights have been violated.

The INM publishes deportation data under the euphemism of returns. The majority of these “returns” in October were carried out under the assisted return method, a procedure that the migrant supposedly initiates voluntarily. The problem is the conditions under which this “premeditated” turn takes place. “Many times the signing of these assisted returns involves pressure actions in the immigration stations,” Castro denounces.

People in an irregular situation who are detained by the immigration authorities are taken to the stations. This year all recent records have been broken, with 588,625 “events of people in an irregular immigration situation”, another euphemism that the INM uses to refer to arrests. In May, Mexico had to close 33 immigration stations after the fire in one of them in Ciudad Juárez in March that left 40 victims. Due to this tragedy, the director of the INM, Francisco Garduño, remains charged while awaiting trial for improper exercise of functions.

While NGOs ask the Government for greater investment to regulate the situation of migrants, Mexico is investing in containment. In the last four years, the National Guard has been deployed on numerous occasions to stop the number of migrants arriving at the southern and northern borders. “There are still immigration review and control actions where there should not be any,” explains Castro.

Now, the INM has stopped deportations due to lack of budget, something that can also affect migrants indirectly. “With the sharp cut in the INM budget during the last month of the year, it is likely that Mexico will depend to a greater extent on the National Guard to manage migration, a mission for which they are barely prepared,” he told the agency. AP the migration analyst of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Adam Isacson.

The coordinator of Comar, Andrés Ramírez, has denounced the lack of budget in his institution, which is responsible for processing refugee and asylum requests from migrants. The member of Sin Fronteras denounces this situation: “There is no budget for the integration processes, for the reception processes and, above all, there is no structure aimed at real integration.”

A problem that for Castro could be much greater. “The discourse of xenophobia, racism and stigmatization that prevails in Mexican society is reinforced through the attitudes of the authorities, which do not allow access to rights to foreign people who are in any of the mobility contexts,” he says. .

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