Central American immigrants are rushing to Mexico to apply for refugee asylum as Trump bears down on immigration policy reform and enforcement.
A blog report on the Center for Immigration Studies’ website called, “Central Americans Turn to Mexico for Asylum,” discusses a Spanish article, which chronicles the experiences of two immigrants from El Salvador and Honduras who traveled to Mexico with intent to cross the U.S. border.
The immigrants explain that after Trump was elected president, they and many others in their same position, opted to apply for refugee status in Mexico instead of crossing into the U.S. Both immigrants’ applications were denied, citing “inability to prove that they meet the criteria for refugee status,” says the blog.
Mexico’s legislation “gives all foreigners in the national territory the right to solicit refugee status, despite illegal entry,” which differs from U.S. legislation, in that “when a foreigner who is already present applies for refugee status, that is called asylum, the ‘refugee’ label being reserved for those processed overseas and then brought here.”
In Mexico, applicants who do not qualify for refugee status can request complementary protection and grants the individual permanent resident status. Furthermore, the article explains that “immigration proceedings initiated due to illegal entry are suspended for those seeking refugee status or complementary protection, and remain suspended until a decision is made about the requested status.”
The latest statistics released by the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) show a 154.6 percent rise in the number of applications received between 2015 and 2016. The selection process of asylum applications typically takes up to three months, says Mexico’s Undersecretary of Migration Roque Villanueva.
An overwhelming majority (estimated 91.6 percent) of the applicants seeking asylum come from Honduras, El Salvador, and Honduras.
COMAR statistics show that in 2015, of those who completed the application process (2,393), 46 percent were granted refugee status (940) or complementary protection (153). The approval rate increased to 63 percent in 2016. From the 4,825 people who completed the application process, 2,563 were recognized as refugees and 493 received complementary protection.
COMAR anticipates the number of applications to more than double during 2017. Undersecretary Villanueva remarked, “The radicalization of some measures with the new U.S. government makes us think that the number of applications will increase.”
Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto vowed during last year’s UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants to ease procedures for asylum eligibility and encouraged the international community to help refugees integrate into society. As a result, Mexico created seven actions to allegedly provide more humane treatment of migrants and refugees.
The trends described above, in conjunction to Mexico’s international commitments, point to a system that is ready and willing to provide the appropriate international protections to those who need them, among the more than 400,000 people that cross Mexico’s southern border every year. Therefore, those choosing not to avail themselves of these protections, and to continue north to sneak across the U.S. border instead, are not really asylum-seekers at all, but illegal immigrants coming to find jobs or join relatives.
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