TREND: From January to November 2021, Mexico received a record-breaking 123,000 asylum applications, ranking third in asylum requests worldwide according to UNHCR figures. In fact, asylum requests this year alone account for 42 percent of all asylum requests Mexico has received since 2013. Additional data from Mexico’s refugee agency (COMAR) show that:
- Since 2018, Mexico has experienced an upward trend in the number of asylum requests, except for 2020, when they decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s asylum requests doubled compared to 2019, tripled compared to 2020, and quadrupled compared to 2018.
- Hondurans have represented the main nationality of asylum seekers in Mexico since 2013. Yet, Haitians made up the largest share of asylum seekers (39 percent) in 2021, increasing from 8 percent in 2019. By contrast, the share of asylum applications submitted by Hondurans decreased from 43 percent in 2019 to 29 percent in 2021. Other top nationalities of asylum seekers in Mexico in 2021 are Cubans (7 percent), Chileans (5 percent), and Salvadorans (5 percent).
- The overall asylum grant rate remained at relatively high levels between 2021 (72 percent) and 2019 (71 percent), and represented a significant increase compared to 2018 (57 percent). Honduran asylum seekers accounted for more than half of all migrants granted asylum from January to November of 2021, whereas Haitians represented only 5 percent of migrants granted asylum during the same period.
- Despite their low asylum grant rates, Haitians are more likely to be granted complementary protection compared to other nationalities. Haitians represented 77 percent of all asylum seekers granted complementary protection so far in 2021. This trend, however, is relatively recent. When looking at the historic trend from 2013 to date, Hondurans and Salvadorans represented 33 and 31 percent of all asylum seekers granted complementary protection in this period, compared to just 16 percent of Haitians.
- Recognition rates for asylum and complementary protection for Venezuelans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans have remained consistently high over the last three years. Notably, the recognition rates for Cuban migrants reached 69 percent this year after rising gradually since 2019, when only 27 percent received asylum and protection.
TAKEAWAY: Traditionally known as a country of transit and origin, Mexico is increasingly becoming a country of destination for asylum seekers as evidenced by the growing number of asylum requests it receives. To manage the unprecedented number of asylum requests it receives, Mexican authorities will have to develop innovative solutions to reduce the strain on COMAR, including opening alternative mechanisms for migrants to regularize their status. But beyond these institutional capacity challenges, Mexican stakeholders should consider the implications of the increasing number of refugees staying in Mexico and their diverse composition in terms of nationality and language as they develop immigrant integration policies at the national, state, and local level.
* Spotlight by Ana Martin Gil, Research Intern, Jaret Waters, Research Consultant, and Andrea Tanco, Associate Policy Analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI). MPI seeks to improve immigration and integration policies through authoritative research and analysis, opportunities for learning and dialogue, and the development of new ideas to address complex policy questions. Twitter: @migrationpolicy