You are here

Mexico: News & Updates

Mexico shares a 2,000-mile border with its neighbor to the north. The US has played a significant role in militarizing the nation in misguided and ineffective policies to stop the flow of drugs and immigrants.  Human rights abuses are prevalent throughout Mexico but especially in the southern, mostly indigenous states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.  Human rights defenders and indigenous community leaders—working to protect their ancestral lands and heritage—are targeted with threats, assaults, abductions and assassinations. Their struggles for peace and liberation are linked with those of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples throughout the hemisphere. 

Learn more here

News Article

In the Tapachula area of southern Mexico, more and more arriving immigrants are left stranded as they strive for a safer life. In the area activists of the Colectivo de Observación y Monitoreo de Derechos Humanos en el Sureste Méxicano, monitoring migration movements, point out massive human rights violations and unfair treatment at the asylum application centers.

With many of the arriving migrants being Haitian or African, the lack of translators and general holdback of information leads to confusion, leaving immigrants stuck in the rain, no access to basic human needs like clean water, a roof over their heads or sanitary facilities. Furthermore, the activists reaffirm their denouncement of 

- the spread of misinformation on asylum and immigration regulations by the authorities

- authorities handing over personal documents in a discriminatory way and through corrupt processes

- authorities improvising measures putting people's health at risk

- the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) setting review appointments up to September 13, leaving immigrants stuck without the ability to work or take part in society. 

Until their process appointment,  the individuals are tied to a temporary security status (Multiple Migration Form, MMF) allowing them to stay in Chiapas state but denying permission to travel throughout the country. Immigrants caught outside of the Chiapas area are met with detention or even deportation. Especially vulnerable are migrants from Central and South America bringing many young children.

We demand a treatment with dignity and the upholding of human rights by the Mexican government for individuals fleeing war, violence, natural disasters and poverty.   

News Article

In this monthly newsletter, please read about (1) Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH, (2)  The Biden Administration’s Plans to Overhaul Border Policies after the End of Title 42, (3) Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures. Update on Removal Flight Trends, (4) Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Renewed for Haitians, and (5) At The Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border. TAKE ACTION ITEMS: After reading the articles, please take a few moments to advocate for migrant justice with our TAKE ACTION items: (1) Urge Congress to Reject Racist, Anti-Asylum Policies, and (2) Permanent Pathway to Citizenship for DACA and TPS Recipients.

News Article

Worldwide the population of female prisoners is rising at immense rates. Since 2000, the number of women in prisons has grown by 60%. The hotspots of this development are Asia and Latin America. Today around 95,000 women are imprisoned in Latin America and the Caribbean countries. The stories of these women are often the same. Born into poor families many only reach low levels of education, leading to un- or underemployment. Often they have suffered from sexual abuse and violence. With a majority of  them being mothers, the pressure to put food on the table is even more pressing, a situation driving them into the low level drug trade.

In 2010, the UN adopted "the Bangkok Rules," a system that promotes non-custodial alternatives like community service, school education, job trainings and house arrest. Since 2014 the National Code of Criminal Procedures has allowed this procedure in Mexico, which has led to a notable reduction of female prisoners between 2014-2019. But more often than not, this comes with a price. The number of pre-trail detention cases has increased, and many choosing this path have to wear an electronic monitoring device. 

Electronic monitoring by itself is a popular alternative to incarceration both in United States and Mexico. But this "alternative" comes with a number of problems. Restrictions like a mandatory permission to leave the house and the need to recharge the ankle mounted device twice a day makes it next to impossible to hold a job and leads to heavy dependence on relatives or other supporters. In the eyes of advocates, electronic monitoring is not an alternative to incarceration but a reproduction of many aspects of incarceration in a person's home. In the city of Los Angeles, electronic monitoring, as a condition of pre-trial release has increased by 5,250% between 2015 and 2021. With most of the affected still awaiting their trail, the system violates the "innocent until proven guilty" law. Furthermore, electronic monitoring comes with a financial aspect. In the United States the costs of confinement are transferred to the individual, leading to a price check of $2,800 - $5,000 per year. Even though in Mexico costs are officially covered by the government, private companies providing the devices charge a fee of $250-$300 monthly--an extreme high amount in a country with a minimum wage of $180 a month. But financial issues are just one side of the problem. Especially in Mexico the need of electricity and a mobile signal often means that the person has to move into a different area; this is a difficult task for jobless and stigmatized individuals. In the worst case this can mean that women are forced to move in or stay with violent and abusive partners. Adding to all the social and financial difficulties are health issues like dry skin and deformation of the ankle.    

News Article

In this montly newsletter, please read about : (1) Immigration Court in Cleveland, OH: Nicaraguans rank #1 in deportation proceedings filed; (2) - Recent Border Trends: Why We See so Many Nicaraguans and Venezuelans Arriving at the U.S. Southern Border; (3) Title 42: Expelling Migrants in the Name of Health Measures: Biden Urges Mexico to Take Migrants under COVID Expulsion Order He Promised to End; (4) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Increase in ICE’s use of Ankle Monitors and Smartphones to Monitor Immigrants and Detention Numbers; (5) At The Border: Recent Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border. TAKE ACTION ITEMS: After reading the articles, please take a few moments to advocate for migrant justice with our TAKE ACTION items: (1) Support Ohio Immigrant and Refugee Businesses this Holiday Season; (2) ​​​​​Urge Congress to Support and Pass Permanent Pathways to Citizenship (3) Stop the illegal and immoral transportation of migrants by certain governors to other states and Washington, DC.

News Article

The Covid 19 pandemic caused a shift within the migration dynamics in South and Central America.

While up to 2020 more than 90% of asylum seekers reaching the U.S. border came from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the composition shifted, and by August 2022 the second most common origin of migrants was Venezuela. 

Though this exodus towards the U.S. is a more recent development, mass migration from Venezuela has been happening for years. In the last decade 7.1 million Venezuelans fled the country, 80% of whom seeking refuge in South and Central American countries as well as Caribbean nations.

In these countries many of the refugees are met with an uncertain migration status, discrimination, xenophobia, violence and an inability to meet basic needs. These circumstances drive a rising number of Venezuelans to the U.S.where they are faced with hostile anti-immigration policies. In March of 2020, the Trump Administration used the Covid 19 pandemic as a pretext for one of the sharpest laws against migration in history. The president reinstated "Title 42" ( a statute last invoked in 1929 to bar the entrance of ships during a meningitis outbreak) so that most migrants who arrive at a U.S. port of entry without documentation and that any migrants found at the U.S. border must be expelled to Mexico or the country of heritage. [Note: only a limited number of countries accept Title 42 expulsions from the US.] For many Venezuelans this means a lengthy process or no chance for entry in to the U.S. at all.

Following the U.S. policies, Mexico began to mandate a tourist visa for Venezuelans entering the country.    

Though Biden promised to make changes in the U.S. immigration policies,  Title 42 has not been annulled.  Together with Biden's financial support for the countries of origin and those who take in big numbers of refugees, Title 42 is used to keep migrants from reaching and entering the U.S. This is especially visual in the fact that the administration still has not established a reception system for migrants to apply for asylum. 

To end this humanitarian crisis, the U.S. government has to invest into reception and robust asylum systems, stop policies discouraging asylum seekers, and end Title 42. Furthermore, it has to increase opportunities for people to apply for a humanitarian visa within Venezuela. 

But it is not all on Biden. Regional challenges require regional approaches and the governments of the Americas have to build regional protection systems. 

News Article

The last week of October was a win for 40 farm workers who were victims of forced labor in Florida. 

The workers were lured in to gag contracts by the international labor contracting company Los Villatores Harvesting LLC (LVH) who promised the desperate Mexican workers the American Dream jobs on farms in the United States. The Mexican guest worker program is essential for U.S. farms and its economy and provides "guest worker visas" (H2 visa) to thousands of workers. This creates opportunities for exploitive labor and a position of power. LVH used this power. It provided workers the H2 visa against a fee of up to $2,000 promising a refund once their victims arrived in the U.S. The refund was never paid; instead the workers were stripped of their passports and forced to work under inhumane conditions while being threatened with arrest and deportation by their employers and held in debt by LVH. 

This horror finally ended when two workers escaped in the trunk of a car and called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a worker protection coalition, who contacted authorities and together with federal agencies and the CIW Anti-Slavery Program uncovered the criminal enterprise. 

Following this investigation, the human trafficking task force stopped this exploitation in its tracks and brought four members of LVH to court. So far the criminal trial led to three sentences.  

The bookkeeper, manager and supervisor Christina Gamez was sentenced to 37 month in prison.

The second supervisor and manager Efrain Cabrera Rodas, a Mexican citizen, was sentenced to 42 months in prison after he made false statements to federal investigators.

A third supervisor, Guadalupe Mendes Mendoza got off with 8 months in home detention.

LVH owner Bladimir Moreno's trial is still ongoing. He pled guilty and will be sentenced on December 28. 

Although this is good news. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers stated that many more foreign workers are still oppressed and exploited under the H2 program. The CIW calls for labor rights enforcement and retail and food companies to commit to human rights standards monitored by workers. Furthermore, the CIW provides the Fair Food Program, helping thousands of workers to fight for their rights. 

News Article

As Fiscal Year 2022 is almost over, we are hearing numbers of 750 or more migrant deaths over the past twelve months. While, tragically, it does still happen that migrants die while being chased by Border Patrol agents or shot when attempting to cross the border, the majority of these deaths are a result of the so-called “prevention through deterrence” strategy that forces people to take on more dangerous routes when traveling up to the southern U.S. border to seek safety. And if they do make it through to the U.S., they are often expelled immediately or put into deportation proceedings, waiting for their hearing in Mexican emergency shelters or U.S. detention centers. Read IRTF's monthly overview of recent updates on U.S. immigration and what has been happening at the border!

News Article

An unexpected turn hits the eight-year ongoing case of 43 missing students in Mexico.

The prosecutor in charge of the most notorious human rights case involving police, military officials, politicians and drug gangs, Omar Gómez Trejo, has quit. This follows disagreements with the Office of the Attorney General. 

Gómez Trejo spent more than three years investigating the case, winning judicial approval for 83 arrest warrants in the last month alone. During his investigation he was met with massive pushback by the attorney general's office, which pressured a judge to vacate 21 of the arrest warrants, 16 of which being military officials.

This resignation leads to people questioning the state's willingness to take on politicians, the police, and the military. 

Officially the government blames corrupt local police and politicians, as well as drug gangs, for the forced disappearance of the students, though independent experts have stated that federal and state army officials had knowledge of the kidnappings and did not intervene. Furthermore, a report accuses the police and army of covering the case up. 

So far the remains of only three of the 43 students have been found. 

This development comes in a charged time. Shortly earlier, Mexico's president Andrés Manuel López Obrador moved the formerly civilian controlled national guard to the army's command and has pushed the congress to extend the military mandate to law enforcement until 2028.

Critics fear that the reliance on the military for everything from arresting drug traffickers to building airports and operating seaports may lead Mexico’s democracy to slip away from civilian control.     

News Article

On behalf of IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) members, we wrote six letters this month to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries.  We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, (3) bring human rights criminals to justice.

IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see , or ask us to mail you hard copies.