The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is deeply concerned by the recurring deployment of security forces in Mexico to block the way of  people in need of protection. 

Since 2021 and earlier this year, there have been reports of Mexican security forces halting groups of asylum seekers trying to move through the country. This week, the National Institute of Migration conducted raids to detain people deemed as “under irregular status” in the southern city of Tapachula. The raids took place near migrant shelters–which goes against the Mexican migration law–in a city that is among the main ports of entry for asylum seekers, where thousands coming from countries like Haiti or Honduras have waited for months for a resolution to their ongoing asylum petitions.

Raymundo Tamayo, Country Director for Mexico at the International Rescue Committee, said:

“Mexico has a long history of welcoming people from all around the world in times when crises have hit the hardest. In 2021, we saw the number of asylum requests in the country peak, with more than 131,000—the highest in the last decade. We even witnessed the country open the door to welcome Afghan evacuees, establishing a cooperation with organizations like the IRC to deliver an emergency response.

“Despite Mexico, having historically welcomed refugees, we are concerned about the increasingly frequent deployment of security forces to halt groups of people trying to get into (or cross through) the country in their search for safety. Measures like this only put those already escaping danger at a higher risk: people have been severely hurt or even killed. 

“International law must be reinforced and respected to receive and assist people fleeing conflict. We call for funding and cooperation among the countries along the migration corridors in the region—including Mexico, which has a strategic position—to offer protection and alternatives for those most affected by a humanitarian crisis. Seeking asylum is legal and efforts must be directed towards promoting collaboration between all sectors, including INGOs, to strengthen asylum policies and systems that guarantee the integrity of asylum seekers, regardless of their nationality or status.”


The IRC in Mexico

The IRC is responding along the main migration corridors in Mexico: from the southern to the northern borders and along the routes through the country. The IRC’s programs offer a timely and comprehensive response to the most urgent needs of people on the move, including: prevention and response to gender-based violence; access to critical information through InfoDigna, a multi-channel information platform; prevention and mitigation of COVID-19; economic recovery and development; child protection services; as well as identifying needs and referring cases to local service providers. Additionally, the IRC is supporting local integration efforts by providing cultural orientation to individuals who have chosen to stay in Mexico.