'Mexican dream': Illegal immigrants stay in Mexico instead of trying to go to the United States

Until October 2023, 114,000 people requested asylum in Mexico. That number is higher than the total applications in 2022.

Mexico has become an option for many immigrants who came to the country with the intention of crossing into the United States. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of people who have decided to stay in Mexico instead of continuing north to the United States. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), until October 2023, 114,000 people requested asylum in Mexico. That number exceeds the number from 2022. If this trend continues, applications will reach a record high. There could be as many as 150,000.

The majority of these requests come from people from countries such as Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela who ultimately decide to settle down in Mexico. They find it easier to obtain the legal means to do so.

A study of the displacement monitoring matrix of the International Organization for Migration of Mexico revealed that 93% of the migrants surveyed in Mexican territory plan to go to the United States. Four percent claimed their final destination was Mexico and 2% did not have a defined destination. Likewise, the remaining 1% is made up of people who mentioned going to Canada or returning to Venezuela. Despite the data, the organization also explained that unlike what was observed in September, there is a 5% increase in the number of people who end up considering Mexico as an alternative destination.

Dtm 2023-Cdmx October by Williams Perdomo on Scribd

"More and more citizens are staying in Mexico"

It's the story of people like Fernando Hernández, 24, who fled Honduras for southern Mexico last year with his partner and young daughter. They planned to traverse the country as quickly as possible to reach the United States. However, then he saw news about people dying in the river on the border with the United States and thought about the risk his family would face and decided not to go through with his original plan.

"Hernández decided to seek asylum in Mexico. After he was approved in February, the UN helped the family relocate to the northern industrial city of Monterrey and Hernández began working at a convenience store," explained Reuters, which told Fernando's story.

However, this is just one testimony. More and more immigrants are choosing to settle in Mexico. According to the Seminar on Migration, Inequality and Public Policies, "more and more citizens are permanently staying in our country, building small communities of compatriots in Mexico City, Cancún, Monterrey, Saltillo, Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana, among other cities, which are beginning to attract new migrants."

"The number of foreigners remains low"

The seminar brings up the need for Mexico to be prepared in one way or another for the arrival of more immigrants. "The number of foreigners remains low as a percentage of the country, but this number is likely to increase in the coming years. The above raises the question of how Mexicans will think about what it is to be Mexican and what will unite them all – both those born in Mexico and those born abroad – in the not-so-distant future. We also have to think about what Mexico will do to live up to being a good host country with the ability to effectively integrate those who arrive and wish to make Mexico their home."

Despite the efforts of countries like Mexico to welcome immigrants, the region is experiencing an unprecedented migration crisis. One of the reasons is that millions of Venezuelans are leaving their country due to Nicolás Maduro's dictatorship. In fact, UNHCR explained that Venezuelan refugees and migrants on the continent lack stable means of subsistence, making it difficult for them to effectively integrate and contribute to host communities:

Amidst a global and regional cost-of-living crisis, Venezuelans are at heightened risk of being victims of abuses like human trafficking, forced recruitment and gender-based violence.