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August 22, 2023

Displacement in Mexico Explained

Map of MexicoMexico has a longstanding tradition of protecting people who have been forced to flee persecution, violence and war. In 2022, Mexico hosted nearly half a million refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless persons and other people in need of international protection.

Here's What You Need to Know:

1. Who is seeking safety in Mexico?

2. Are people applying for asylum in Mexico?

3. How is UNHCR assisting displaced people in Mexico?

4. What is the Local Integration Program?

5. How will Mexico continue to support refugees?

Father and baby in Mexico

Who is seeking safety in Mexico?

Violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as political and social crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela, have forced thousands of people to flee to other countries in search of safety. Of the 498,226 displaced individuals and other people in need of international protection in Mexico, the majority come from Venezuela, Honduras, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua. The number of asylum applications from Cuban and Venezuelan nationals doubled from 2021 to 2022, while the number of asylum applications from Nicaraguan nationals tripled.

Children, pregnant women and people from the LGBTIQ+ community are some of the most vulnerable groups seeking safety in Mexico. The number of minors traveling alone through Mexico, particularly from Central America, has increased in recent years.

Additionally, 386,197 people were internally displaced in Mexico between 2006 to 2022 due to violence.

Are people applying for asylum in Mexico?

Mexico ranked third for individual registration of new asylum-seekers in the Americas during 2022, accounting for 10 percent of all new asylum applications in the region. Mexico also ranks fourth globally, after the United States, Germany, and Costa Rica, with 118,800 new asylum applications in 2022, the same number as Spain.

Mexico has a favorable legal framework for the inclusion of asylum-seekers and refugees into national systems. Recognized refugees have the right to work, access formal employment and social protection systems. Refugees and asylum-seekers also have access to education and health systems and other government programs.

Displaced family in Mexico

How is UNHCR assisting displaced people in Mexico?

UNHCR, known in Mexico as ACNUR, has been providing protection and humanitarian assistance in Mexico for more than 40 years. UNHCR works in collaboration with the Government of Mexico, civil society organizations and the private sector to ensure that people fleeing violence and persecution are able to receive protection, apply for asylum and safely integrate into their new communities.

UNHCR also promotes long term solutions that foster local integration through close collaboration with partners and host communities. Some of the main ways UNHCR supports displaced people in Mexico are by providing:

  • Vital information about how to request protection
  • Legal assistance and representation
  • Psychosocial support
  • Improved reception conditions — including conditions that provide additional support for children, women and the LGBTIQ+ population
  • Cash assistance
  • Integration into the labor force and local communities

UNHCR ACNUR staff helping mother and daughter in Mexico

What is the Local Integration Program?

Local integration is one of the most viable solutions for refugees. The Local Integration Program is a solutions-based initiative that provides job training and livelihood opportunities for refugees and asylum-seekers who are looking to rebuild their lives in Mexico. The program also helps connect displaced families with their new communities, promoting acceptance, belonging and inclusion.

The Local Integration Program aims to meet a demand for additional workforce across central and northern parts of Mexico. As part of this program, UNHCR is working with federal and state authorities and the national job placement service and has partnered with more than 400 private companies that hire refugees across the country. Refugees participating in the integration program achieve greater economic stability while building safer lives for themselves and their families.

You can learn more about the Local Integration Program here.

Family in Mexico

How will Mexico continue to support refugees?

Since 2017, Mexico has participated in the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS)  and has sought to implement a range of commitments to provide protection and solutions for forcibly displaced people throughout the country. As part of this framework, Mexico has already taken a number of steps to support displaced people. The next steps Mexico plans to execute in this framework are:

  • Strengthen the capacity of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) to deliver protection, accelerate the issuance of documents for persons of concern and provide integration assistance
  • Identify more children with international protection needs
  • Promote the inclusion of refugee and asylum-seeking children in preschool, elementary and high school
  • Strengthen the capacity of the National Employment Service to match refugees and asylum-seekers to job vacancies across Mexico
  • Ensure access to public health services


How to help displaced people in Mexico…

You can help support forcibly displaced people and people in need of international protection in Mexico by becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor. Your donation can help displaced individuals meet their basic needs and support efforts to improve infrastructure for refugees.