A new set of policies is going into effect in Mexico that will help migrants temporarily stay and work in the country.
The change came suddenly, and was partially a response to the Biden administration relaunching the Migrant Protection Protocols, or “remain in Mexico” program for asylum seekers.
María Verza, a Mexico City-based reporter for the Associated Press, spoke to Texas Standard about how the new policies are designed to reduce immigration pressure at Mexico’s southern border. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: What is Mexico doing differently immigration-wise, now that the Remain in Mexico policy has been reinstated here in the U.S.?
Maria Verza: Well, the main difference, and it came some weeks before the Remain in Mexico, was giving humanitarian visas to a lot of people who were stranded in the south of Mexico. The south of Mexico was terribly crowded and life there was quite hard. I mean, tens of thousands of migrants still more coming in. No jobs, no facilities, no shelter. So the new idea was OK. Instead of stopping there, let’s give them humanitarian visas that could let them move all around Mexico and work for a year.
Have the humanitarian visas been distributed? What is the practical effect for these people?
The practical effect is to be able to move from the south to other states of Mexico. This is not a new instrument, but it was used [very sparingly before.] And the good part for migrants is that in the north states, there are more jobs.
Do you have a sense of how everyday Mexican citizens are reacting to what’s happening at both the northern and southern border? Do they like the idea of these humanitarian visas when you have a lot of people coming into Mexico, but then they can’t move forward into the United States as many of them may well have intended?
In the south, the last time I was there, the feelings were a bit mixed. Some people were fed up with migrants. Racism was growing more and more. And that that’s real, especially because there are now a lot of jobs in the south. So there is a problem there. But of course, when you have a lot of migrants in one place and especially when those migrants are not working and they’re just stuck in their camp, there is a problem. There is a racism problem, especially with Haitians.
What has been the reaction among everyday folks in Mexico – in Mexico City, where you are – to word that these migrant protection protocols are being reimposed?
Oh, in general, they don’t like it because that means more migrants coming to Mexico and there are a lot. The border cities are very worried because their capacity is not high, even if the governments have found some ways of having more shelters and more security. But they are worried, very worried. And insecurity is a subject, especially on the Texas and Tamaulipas border.