More than 90,000 people were held in immigration detention in Mexico in 2017, a policy that has been shown to be expensive and harmful. Of these 90,000, more than 18,000 children and adolescents were detained because of their migration status, despite the fact that current legal framework prohibits it.

Image: Numbers of adults (dark blue), children and adolescents (teal) held in immigration detention in Mexico, by year, January 2012 – August 2018 (Source: Official government statistics)


Mexico has a new administration, and the IDC has outlined how alternatives to immigration detention present an opportunity for reform that respects the right to liberty.

Mexico has already made significant progress to develop alternatives to immigration detention for those who are in vulnerable situations, such as children and asylum seekers. In 2014, new legislation established a national protection system for all children, regardless of their immigration situation; and since then, successful pilot projects have demonstrated how children and families can be supported to live in the community as they participate in their ongoing migration or asylum process.

Image: Progress made in Mexico to limit immigration detention and develop alternatives


The IDC has identified current opportunities available to the Mexican government to limit the use of immigration detention and strengthen the use of alternatives. It urges the State to develop, promote and invest in joint programs, between authorities and civil society, which uphold migrants’ rights and meet the requirements of the State.

Read the opportunities here.