Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2017, 15:40 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Mexico

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Mexico , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Mexico recorded about 2,900 refugees and asylum seekers at year's end, mostly living in Mexico City or other cities, including 1,700 Salvadorans, 900 Guatemalans, and 100 Colombians. Forty were granted asylum in the year, and 80 applications were pending at year's end.

Some 20,700 Mexicans were seeking asylum in North America, most (16,900) in the United States. Rural, indigenous conflicts continued in 2003 and were a potential source of asylum seekers, but many of the U.S. applications were filed as a procedural maneuver to pursue other sorts of immigration relief only available in immigration court.

New Developments Having undertaken major migration enforcement initiatives, such as the "Southern Plan," to stem the flow of undocumented migrants, Mexico also took measures to improve its asylum system. Both the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) opened offices in Tapachula near Guatemala, facilitating identification of asylum seekers at the southern border. However, Mexico registered only 275 new asylum applications during 2003. Mexico detained most of those who managed to assert a claim to asylum but who arrived undocumented. Half of these detainees were released within a month after a preliminary review of their application.

About 1,000 long-staying Guatemalans and 1,122 other former refugees naturalized in 2003. UNHCR called Mexico's hosting and gradual integration of tens of thousands of refugees from Guatemala's civil war a success, with COMAR still assisting 27,000.

The Mexican Congress's constitutional reform of indigenous issues satisfied few, if any, indigenous groups and created renewed hostility with the Zapatistas, a leftist, largely indigenous group which has been in conflict with the government since 1994 in Chiapas. The Fox administration offered an unprecedented opening to UN human rights mechanisms, and UN officials criticized rural violence against indigenous peoples associated with land disputes and occasional displacement, among other issues. Such violence and the unresolved Zapatista conflict caused more than 12,000 people to remain displaced in the state of Chiapas.

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