Memo: Impacts of U.S. and Mexican Migration Enforcement on Migrant and Refugee Rights in Mexico

Current U.S. and Mexican migration enforcement policies violate migrant and refugee rights in contravention of commitments both governments have made to protect migrants and refugees and their responsibilities under domestic and international law to respect people’s right to seek protection. 

While the Biden Administration’s proposed “Collaborative Migration Management Strategy” (CMMS) aims to promote “safe, orderly and humane migration,” the current violations of migrant and refugee rights in Mexico, supported and fueled by U.S. policies, demonstrate an enforcement-centric approach, not a focus on expanding access to protection in Mexico and the region, one of the priorities in the CMMS. Far from deterring migration, current U.S. and Mexican enforcement policies are exacerbating the situation of people fleeing their home countries by returning them to danger, denying them the right to seek refuge, and fueling a vicious cycle in which they have no choice but to migrate again, often following dangerous, clandestine routes. Recent human rights violations committed by Mexican migration enforcement and security forces also highlight a broader, concerning pattern of impunity and abuse within these institutions. 

The following is a summary of migrant and refugee rights violations in Mexico documented by civil society organizations and journalists from August 2021 through the present. Human rights violations include the denial of the right to seek protection by U.S. and Mexican governments from the U.S.-Mexico border through arrival in Guatemala via Title 42 and Mexican government expulsions from within Mexico; violation of non-refoulement; excessive use of force and attacks against human rights defenders and journalists by Mexican migration and law enforcement and security forces; family separation and abuses of migrant children; and the systematic detention, deportation and expulsion of asylum seekers and refugees with documents authorizing their status in Mexico.

PHOTO CAPTION: A Border Patrol vehicle drives through a gate in the border fence on September 17, 2021 in Del Rio, Texas. (Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images).