On May 22, 2018, the IDC joined member and partner organizations in speaking out against a possible agreement between Mexico and the US that would require some people fleeing Central America to process their asylum claims in Mexico.
In a letter addressed to government representatives of the two countries, experts expressed concern that the agreement would significantly limit access to international protection and violate people’s right to seek safety in the U.S.
The letter highlighted Mexico’s overwhelmed asylum system and persistent use of immigration detention. It states:
“This type of agreement would prevent anyone who traveled through Mexico from asking for protection from the U.S. government and require they go back to Mexico to seek humanitarian protection. The process presumes migrants have the ability to access protection in Mexico and that it is a safe place to stay.”
Mexico is not safe for many migrants, and its asylum system lacks capacity to process more than a tiny fraction of cases of individuals seeking, and in need of, international protection.
Some of the key issues highlighted include:
- Individuals seeking protection in Mexico face many obstacles, including remaining in detention while their claim is being processed in the majority of cases, and lack of access to legal advice to assist in navigating Mexico’s immigration and refugee laws
- According to official statistics, 18,300 children were detained by immigration authorities in 2017; even those transferred to DIF custody [the family welfare department] are in locked-door facilities, in conditions that dissuade them from seeking protection
- The Mexican Refugee Commission, COMAR, also lacks financial, technical, and human resources, and the Mexican government has not shown the political will to address these shortcomings
- The agency has no capacity to adjudicate the number of asylum claims received in the United States. In 2017, 90,104 asylum claims were filed in the United States by asylum seekers from Central America alone … the system would further collapse if COMAR had to handle this many more applications
We strongly urge the United States and Mexico to abandon negotiations on such an agreement and instead to uphold their responsibility under international and national law to offer access to international protection to all those seeking it, ensuring due process and respect for family unity.