Mexico is experiencing record numbers of people migrating through its territory, at a time when deportations from the United States remain high and many Mexican citizens are opting to displace internally or to migrate to the United States. This poses daunting human rights challenges for a country grappling with high levels of organized crime and an immigration system whose troubles were brought into sharp relief by a March 2023 fire that killed 40 migrants in a Ciudad Juárez detention facility.
Gretchen Kuhner directs the Mexico City-based Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI), which advocates for the rights of migrants through legal representation, policy advocacy, providing services, and some often very successful litigation that has helped do away with some of Mexico’s more draconian or abusive policies toward migrants. Among IMUMI’s current clients are eight surviving victims of the Ciudad Juárez detention facility fire.
Kuhner talks to WOLA at a time of uncertainty for the Mexican government’s migration policies. While migration in transit is at record levels, so is the number of people seeking asylum in Mexico’s system. The country is de-emphasizing migrant detention, in compliance with a court order, even as it steps up efforts to deport people through its southern border or to move them to central areas away from borders. And it is contending with the effects of U.S. policy changes, like the May 2023 end of the Title 42 pandemic expulsions policy and the rollout of the “CBP One” smartphone app for asylum seekers.
A clear and patient explainer, Gretchen Kuhner walks the listener through these policy changes and challenges, and makes the point that Mexico, a large, middle-income country, is capable of absorbing and accommodating a significant number of people at a historic moment for migration in the Americas.