Addressing the migration crisis in Latin America requires international cooperation. This meeting could represent an opportunity to advance efforts and funding towards humanitarian response in the region.
Mexico City, Mexico, February 26, 2021 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) recognizes the virtual meeting of Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard, and Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier, as an important and promising step towards the restoration of asylum systems and response to the migration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The more than 65,000 migrants living at the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border are reminders that migration and displacement in Latin America are multi-factor issues that require international cooperation and a comprehensive approach. Asylum seekers might wait 9 to 16 months for case processing, time in which they are faced with vulnerability, lacking access to basic services and safe housing, or housing at all.
During 2021, more than 70,000 asylum requests are expected in Mexico, 50% higher than the amount projected for 2020 (UNHCR). Strengthening the U.S. asylum processes and systems, ensuring they are fair and humane, is an essential step, but other actions are required across the whole region to provide long-term solutions.
Raymundo Tamayo, Country Director of Mexico for the IRC, said: “While there is great focus on what happens at the U.S.-Mexico border, there is more to do to address the drivers of migration from Northern Central America, the place of origin of many people who are currently waiting at border cities like Ciudad Juárez. International cooperation is critical to addressing the root causes of migration and to building protection capacity in countries of origin and transit. People deserve to be safe in their communities. For those who cannot find safety there, stronger regional cooperation can ensure that they are able to find safety closer to home and are safe in their journeys.
“Mexico could evolve from a country of origin and transit into one with strong asylum and resettlement systems and processes, that can be safe for some people to rebuild their lives. Still, the country faces high insecurity rates and social challenges that threaten the wellbeing of both migrants and nationals, that require immediate attention.
“Cooperation between countries and sectors will be key in the response to the migration crisis. International NGOs, like the IRC, can bring a breadth of experience and capacities to respond at different stages of the arc of crisis, but funding is necessary to support and expand programming in the region.”
The IRC in Mexico provides capacity-building support to local partners to increase and improve the availability and quality of services in border towns. Its current programming includes supporting women’s protection and empowerment; economic recovery and development; mental health and psychosocial support; cultural orientation; and access to critical information through InfoDigna, part of the Global Signpost project. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the IRC also supports a filter hotel, to provide testing, triage, and isolation spaces for migrants to prevent the virus from spreading in other shelters.
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