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Representatives from 25 IDC member and partner organizations that work in more than 12 cities across Mexico participated in national workshops to discuss opportunities and strategies to promote alternatives to detention (ATD).

The first workshop took place on November 4th and 5th and focused on strengthening advocacy strategies. In addition to sharing positive practices, participants identified different actions and priorities for the inclusion of development and implementation of alternatives to detention within the migration policy agenda.

The second workshop, which was coordinated with IDC member organization Sin Fronteras, was held November 24th and 25th and included participants from children’s group homes, shelters along the migration route north, as well as lawyers and others who provide direct services to migrants. Participants began to identify existing efforts and practices that prevent immigration detention, and highlighted the need to strengthen community mechanisms for case management for migrants and asylum seekers.

Guaranteeing the right to freedom for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers continues to be one of the most challenging, complex migration management issues in Mexico. The continued increase in the use of immigration detention as the first response to irregular migration makes work toward alternatives to detention all the more urgent.


However, along with the institutionalization of harmful mandatory detention, participants also identified community programs being implemented by civil society organizations that include screening and identification of groups that should never be detained for immigration purposes, such as children, victims of crime and asylum seekers. Programs identified also highlight the commitment of these organizations in negotiations with local authorities to protect migrants’ right to freedom, as well as positive practices in case management occurring across the country–from Tapachula, to Tenosique,  Acayucan, Guadalajara, Puebla, Mexico City, Chihuahua, and Piedras Negras.

In response to increased numbers of migrants and asylum seekers searching for protection and a better life, along with the challenge of working in communities facing growing xenophobia, workshops participants were clear to point out that:

There are good practices that promote alternatives to detention in Mexico and we want to institutionalize them, in order to better assist the people who are looking to us for help.

Both workshops were successful in establishing productive dialogue, strengthening partnerships, sharing positive practices, defining obstacles and identifying opportunities to continue to work together. All this with the goal of limiting and ending immigration detention and facilitating community case management in Mexico.

See photos from the ATD Advocacy Workshop

See photos from the ATD Implementation Workshop 

Read the Community Reception and Care Model for Unaccompanied Children in Mexico (in Spanish): Modelo de recepción y acogida comunitaria para niñas, niños y adolescentes no acompañados en México 

Read the report Dignity without Exception: Alternatives to Immigration Detention in Mexico (Summary report in English)