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Migration Issues


  • Ministry of Interior
  • Mexican Youth Institute
  • US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM)
  • US Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP)
  • Canadian Embassy in Mexico
  • IOM Development Fund
  • State governments

Irregular migrants from Mexico, Central America and many other countries cross or attempt to cross every day the 3,141 km Mexico-U.S. border, seeking a better life in North America. Around 450,000 undocumented Mexicans enter the United States every year, in addition to others from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and South America. The Mexican southern border with Guatemala has become the key crossing point for migrants coming from Central and South America, most of them in transit towards the United States. In 2004, around 215,000 Central American migrants were intercepted by Mexican authorities and returned to their countries of origin.

Hundreds of smuggling organizations use the Mexican territory for their unscrupulous activities. At the same time, trafficking in persons has been increasing, exploiting Central American women and child migrants as well as through active networks in sex tourism locations.

The government has focused its efforts on strengthening its migration management structures both enforcement and services, and on improving return procedures of irregular migrants. Bi-national commissions for which migration issues are of paramount significance have been established with Central American countries and agreements for orderly return have been signed with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Mexico also plays a leading role in most regional initiatives on migration, particularly the Regional Conference on Migration and the Puebla-Panama Plan.

The following are projects managed by IOM:

Operations and Logistics

The Mexican Government-funded Assisted Voluntary Return Programme (AVRP) began operating in August 2005 and is currently IOM Mexico’s largest programme and one of IOM’s best institutional practices in this area. To date, the AVRP has assisted more than 8,000 extra-regional migrants by providing counseling, orientation, assistance with the issuance of travel documents, air tickets and contact with family members as well as IOM missions in their countries of origin (mainly in the Caribbean, South America, Asia).

IOM Mexico also provides assistance through the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) fund for the return and reintegration of vulnerable migrants to countries of origin in Central America. To date more than 550 migrants have been assisted through the RCM fund.

Additionally, the Operations Unit provides logistical support to the Mexican Government in the preparation of international events and conferences such as the World Youth Conference 2010 and the fourth Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) which took place in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

This unit also provides attractive air ticket fares to students and scholarship holders who travel abroad. IOM has established a series of agreements with a large number of airlines worldwide and can, in most cases, offer extremely attractive airfares. Since the beginning of the unit’s activities in 2005, it has assisted students and permanent visa holders with discount airfares to Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand the United Kingdom.


IOM Mexico has carried out capacity-building activities for more than 4,000 government and civil society officials, focused mainly on issues related to trafficking in persons and migrants rights. Efforts have also been directed towards publishing research on Trafficking in Persons in Mexico. IOM Mexico’s latest research project documents the situation of trafficking in persons to and through Ciudad Juarez along the northern border. The final document will be published in early 2012.

Since 2005, IOM has implemented a project in coordination with government institutions and civil society organizations providing direct assistance to victims of trafficking including medical and psychological support, shelter, documentation and information on return and reinsertion opportunities in their countries of origin. To date IOM Mexico has provided support to more than 175 victims and is one of the most prominent service providers to victims of trafficking in the country. IOM recently published a study compiling cases of trafficking assisted by the organization in Mexico between 2005 and 2009. Prevention activities have also included a variety of information campaign on the risks of trafficking in persons in local media along both the northern and southern borders.

Institutional Strengthening, Investigation and Dissemination of Information

Promotion of Education and Validation of Studies for Migrant Children. IOM Mexico is currently implementing projects financed by the Canadian Embassy’s Fund for Local Initiatives and the local state of Sonora in order to promote educational continuity and lower the dropout rate amongst migrant children. These projects seek to work with parents, educational authorities, teachers and consular representatives so as to develop information materials aimed at providing details on student enrolment for foreigners in Tapachula, as well as procedures necessary to validate Mexican studies in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. An investigation will also be carried out to identify best practices regarding programmes focused on migrant children. The investigation results as well as the information materials produced will be presented to government officials, teachers and migrants in a series of training events.

Labour Migration. The Labour Migration unit provides technical assistance to federal and state governments for the management of labour migration programmes and the protection of migrant workers’ human rights. An investigation was carried out in coordination with the Government of Chiapas in order to identify the needs of migrant agricultural workers and their families in coffee, banana and papaya plantations along the southern border. The unit also coordinated the regional project "Developing Tools to Enhance Governmental Capacities in Latin American and Caribbean Countries to Plan and Implement Labour Migration Policies" which has resulted in the publication of "Public Policies on Labour Migration: Tools and Best Practices".

Institutional Strengthening and Investigation. The Labour Migration unit is in charge of implementing the project “Promotion and Strengthening of the Grupos Beta and the Programa Paisano as Examples of Successful Partnerships for the Benefit of Migrants” which was developed in order to disseminate best practices of the Mexican Government regarding attention to migrants and provide technical assistance for the evaluation and strengthening of capacities of officials. A documentary and publication on experiences of the Grupos Beta (the humanitarian and rescue division of the National Migration Institute) and the Programa Paisano (assisting Mexican migrants from the US, mainly holiday makers, in their temporary return to Mexico) were finalized and presented at the GFMD in Puerto Vallarta. IOM Mexico also carried out a training programme for 44 Programa Paisano officials and 52 Grupos Beta officials during 2010 and 2011.

Support to the Humane Repatriation Programme

This project was designed to strengthen the Government of Mexico’s capacity, through the National Migration Institute (INM), to manage the humane repatriation programme in order to offer a dignified reception to Mexicans repatriated from the United States (annual average: half a million), as well as possibilities of reinsertion in selected federal States which have high immigration rates. An operating procedures manual was developed in order to standardize activities, infrastructure and services provided in each receiving point along the border.

Material support has been provided to the Grupos Beta and migrant shelters in Ciudad Juarez, Nogales and Mexicali to improve attention to returned migrants. IT equipment was also provided to the INM in order to strengthen the capacities of nine receiving points along the northern border. Close to 50 humane repatriation programme officials have received training in trafficking in persons and migrant human rights issues and new mechanisms have been established to improve INM’s capacity to capture information about returned migrants’ profiles. The project was completed by developing and printing a series of information materials, including posters and brochures, aimed at Mexican nationals being deported from the US.

Prevention of Migrant Kidnapping and Assistance to Victims

This project is being implemented in four southern states of Mexico: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Veracruz. It analyzes the problem of migrant kidnapping to identify best practices and recommend the development of a procedures manual for government and civil society members to improve the identification of and assistance to migrant victims of kidnapping. The project also has a small fund to provide medical and psychological assistance, shelter and food, documentation and when necessary, repatriation to the victim’s country of origin.

Last updated:
Main text: January 2012
Facts and figures: January 2012

CapitalMexico City
Population (2015):127 million
Area:1,960,000 km sq
Languages :Spanish
Currency:Mexican Peso (MXN)
GDP per Capita PPP (2014):USD 17,167
HDI Rank (2014):74 of 188
Remittances (2014 estimate):USD 24,866 million
Net Migration Rate (2015-2020):-0.8 migrants/1,000 population
Immigrants (2015):0.9%
Women as a Percentage of Immigrants (2015):49.3%
Population under 15 (2015):27.6%
Adult HIV Prevalence (2014):0.20%

International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Francisco Sosa # 267
Col. Barrio de Santa Catarina
C.P. 04010
México, DF

Tel: +525 5 55 36 39 54
Fax: +525 5 56 87 19 15
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.oim.org.mx/