This year, the southern border of Mexico is seeing an influx of migrants coming from Central America and seeking refuge as opposed to passing through and going to the US.
This year, the Mexican city of Tenosique near the Guatemalan border is expected to absorb more than 8,000 immigrants seeking asylum. There, immigrants attempt to find work in order to cover expenses, whilst the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on Refugees) covers housing rent.
The immigrants are mainly fleeing due to fear of gang violence that is ravaging Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
The reason they are settling in Mexico and not attempting to settle in the United States is because of the violence in Mexico itself, and the potential risks one would be exposed to whilst attempting to enter the US from the Mexican border. Another recent factor is Donald Trump’s stance on immigration, which has turned many people away and alarmed many immigrants already in the US.
In 2014, the number of asylum seekers in Mexico was approximately 2,000. In 2015 it was 3,423. Now more than 8,000 people are seeking asylum in Mexico.
COMAR, the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid, has said that 4,000 of the applications received this year till October have went to the final stage in the process. Another 2,162 have been granted refugee status. And 414 applicants did not qualify to refugee status but have received government protection.
The director of the UNHCR in Mexico, Rafael Zavala, has said that as word spreads about the possibility of asylum in Mexico, more people are doing so.
When migrants arrive at the borders, they are first sent to immigration detention before being place in a migrant shelter. Responses to asylum requests could take up to three months, during which applicants cannot leave the area. They are also expected to sign in weekly at the local immigration office.