The Citizens Council of Mexicos National Migration Institute Exposes the Harsh Realities Faced by Migrants in Mexico

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The Citizens Council of the National Migration Institute (Consejo Ciudadano del Instituto Nacional de Migración, CCINM) is an advisory and support body to Mexico’s National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) that serves as a platform for civil society organizations to collaborate in the development of proposals that support the wellbeing of the migrant population in Mexico. Maureen Meyer, WOLA Senior Associate for Mexico and Migrant Rights, has been a member of the Council since 2015.

In 2016, members of the CCINM carried out a monitoring mission to several of Mexico’s migrant detention centers (estancias migratorias) to evaluate how Mexico’s migration law is being implemented when migrants are in detention, and the treatment migrants receive while under the custody of the INM and in the deportation process. In a recent report based on the observations and information gathered by the monitoring mission through visits to 17 migrant detention centers, the analysis of over 150 documents and records from the centers, and interviews with detained migrants, migration enforcement authorities, and detention center staff, the Council fund thatfar from prioritizing the protection of migrantsmigration policy in Mexico is oriented primarily towards the detection, detention, and deportation of migrants, without regard for their human rights or legal protections.

During the period of the monitoring mission, the CCINM detected a rise in migration control operations carried out by the INM and other security forces throughout the country, particularly at hotels located in cities where migration flows are high. Authorities vaguely referenced “security reasons” to justify the operations, but the case files reviewed during the monitoring mission lacked reference to a specific legal justification for the detention or detailed circumstances or criteria that led to the interdiction and deprivation of liberty of the migrants detained during these operations.  

Furthermore, the majority of detainees interviewed at the centers reported never having received information about their right to apply for asylum or that the information was not clear; the report concluded that the administrative intake process is primarily oriented towards deportation. The report also exposes the concerning conditions found inside the detention facilities, including severe overcrowding, a lack of adequate sanitary conditions and qualified medical staff, a lack of special protections for pregnant women, children, LBGTQ individuals, and other particularly vulnerable persons, and a lack of clear systems to allow detainees to denounce crimes, abuses, and human rights violations committed against them.

Based on these findings, the Council presented a series of recommendations to the INM and other public institutions and civil society organizations involved in migration matters in Mexico, emphasizing the “need to transform the current migration control model”. Among the 156 proposals outlined, the Council calls on Mexico to strengthen its asylum procedures for migrants that require protection and urges the INM to establish systems that guarantee civil society organizations access to all areas of the migrant detention centers, highlighting their key role in monitoring center conditions and documenting human rights violations.

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