REUTERS/ Jorge Cabrera

Ed. Note: On Dec. 7, Mexican organizations in defense of migrants’ rights held a press conference announcing their opposition to an agreement with the Trump administration, such as “Third Safe Country” or “Remain in Mexico”  being negotiated between the two governments, in an Open Letter to the Mexican government. On Dec. 20, Donald Trump announced a plan to deport asylum-seekers who entered the United States through Mexico to await decisions in their cases on Mexican soil. The government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador accepted the plan, which is essentially the “Remain in Mexico” agreement referred to in the Letter.

The organizations reiterate their opposition to the plan. We profoundly lament the Mexican government’s decision to collaborate with the xenophobic and anti-immigrant agenda of the Trump administration. Mexico has the sovereign right to define and enforce its own migration policy. Currently there is confusion among the declarations of the Ministries of Foreign Relations, Interior and the National Migration Institute. The hope is that in the López Obrador government will clarify and rectify its position which in practice promotes and advances the white supremacist and exclusionary strategy of the Trump administration. Americas Program.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador
President of Mexico

Olga Sánchez Cordero
Secretary of the Interior

Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón
Secretary of Foreign Affairs

Alejandro Encinas
Under Secretary for Human Rights, Migration and Population of Mexico

We, organizations that work in defense of the human rights of migrants in Mexico, urge you to reject any agreement with the United States that limits or denies in practice the rights of migrants, asylum seekers or refugees.

In particular, we demand that our government resist pressures from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accept a “Third Safe Country” agreement, “Remain in Mexico” or any other plan that seeks to incorporate Mexico into the failed immigration system of the United States.

In May 2018, DHS made a public proposal to the government of Mexico to sign an agreement to recognize Mexico as a Third Safe Country, which would oblige asylum seekers coming through Mexico to request asylum here, denying their right to apply for asylum in the United States. Then-Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Luis Videgaray, rejected the proposal: “The Third Safe Country designation would declare Mexico a final destination country for migrants and would invalidate any asylum application process in the United States. That is why we have rejected it.” We appreciate the fact that, despite pressure, the current government has also expressed its refusal to enter into this agreement proposed by the Trump administration

We ask your government to maintain its decision to reject the Third Safe Country proposal because, among other reasons: a) The scheme has caused endless problems in the places where it has been applied; b) The concept of “Third Safe Country” contradicts the Geneva Convention of 1951, the 1967 Protocol and the principle of non-refoulement by breaking with the logic of protection of persons for fear of individual persecution; c) Mexico cannot currently be considered a safe country since migrants, refugees and asylum seekers continue to face serious perils and violations of their human rights; d) Mexico does not have an asylum system that allows it to adequately respond to the current number of asylum seekers in Mexico, much less to the increase that this type of agreement with the United States would imply, and; e) In upholding its national sovereignty and basic principles, Mexico should not aid the US government in shirking its obligations to protect.

In recent weeks, we have learned that negotiations are taking place between the governments of the United States and Mexico regarding an agreement referred to as “Remain in Mexico”. This agreement, according to the available information, stipulates that  asylum-seekers will have to wait in Mexico for the duration of their legal proceedings until their cases are decided in U.S. courts. This process currently takes an average of two years and many cases take up to five years. With the increase in the number of applicants and the deliberate slowness with which the US government is processing asylum cases, the wait time increases.

The “Remain in Mexico” proposal constitutes, in itself, a violation of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees for the following reasons, among others:

1. It violates the right to family unity and reunification, as many families seek to reunite with family members in the United States, and waiting conditions in Mexico could force some family members to leave while others wait.

2. It creates obstacles and inhibits in practice the right to have legal representation in asylum cases, since it forces applicants to remain in Mexico while their cases are heard in the United States. Multiple studies in that country have concluded that legal representation is key to ensuring a fair process.

3. It violates the basic rights of children established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child of November 20, 1989, in the Mexican Constitution and in the general law on the Rights of Children and Adolescents.

4. It violates the right to security, as the proximity to the black market of prohibited drugs in the United States and the war on drugs has made the Mexican border area one of the most dangerous areas of the country. Here organized crime finds easy prey in populations of migrants who forced to travel underground, who have little or no access to the Mexican justice system, who face  discrimination, who do not have access to work and income, and who do not have family and social support networks.

5: The agreement could jeopardize the principle of non-refoulement for Mexican asylum seekers in the United States, a principle that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has called “the cornerstone of international protection for refugees and asylum seekers. of asylum. ”

In addition to the above-mentioned rights, the proposal creates pressure in the border area of ​​Mexico by increasing the already substantial number of people who want to migrate to the US. The concentration of migrants seeking to enter the United States could create greater social tensions, strain on infrastructure and other complications for Mexico’s border area. It has been reported that this plan includes US foreign aid for Mexico to house asylum seekers from the neighboring country, which we consider would be  a shameful exchange of rights for money.

This type of agreement also supports the anti-immigrant policies of the U.S. government. Its strategy to criminalize and repress migrants has been imposed formally on Mexico since the adoption of Plan Frontera Sur (the Southern Border Plan) in 2014, with the support of US resources through the Merida Initiative and the direct participation of the Southern Command on the border between Mexico and Guatemala.[7] Now the Trump administration has officially requested $20 million dollars [8] for Mexico to deport Central Americans from its territory. [9]

Mexico cannot be an accomplice to the anti-migrant policies of the U.S. government that negatively affect the most vulnerable populations and families. Mexico is a nation that defends the fundamental value of national sovereignty, as the current government has repeatedly asserted.

Together we can build our own policies based on guaranteeing the rights of migrants and addressing humanitarian needs, with the longer term goal of ending forced migration and displacement.

We hope that in this historical moment in Mexico we can strengthen our sovereignty and with full respect for human rights, despite the intense pressure that the United States government exerts over our government. We are aware that this demands the efforts of everyone.


Red de Documentación de las Organizaciones Defensoras de Migrantes (REDODEM); Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración, AC (IMUMI); Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano; Programa de las Américas; Voces Mesoamericanas; Mesa Transfronteriza Migraciones y Género: Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova; Centro de Derechos Humanos Oralia Morales; Coalición Indígena de Migrantes de Chiapas (CIMICH); Comité de Derechos Humano Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada A.C.; Formación y Capacitación A.C. (FOCA); Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC); La 72, Hogar – Refugio para Personas Migrantes; Médicos del Mundo Francia – España; Pastoral de Migrantes, Parroquia de Frontera Comalapa; Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (SJM); Servicio Pastoral a Migrantes San Martin de Porres (SEPAMI – SMP ); Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados  (SJR); Una Ayuda para ti Mujer Migrante A.C.; Acción con Pueblos Migrantes, A.C; Alianza de ex Braceros del Norte; Asociación Consejería Oxlajuj Ix para Centroamérica y México (CAMEX)

Asociación Coordinadora Comunitaria de Servicios para la Salud-Guatemala ACCSS; Asociación de Desarrollo Social de Ixcán (ADESI); Asociación de Familiares de Migrantes Desaparecidos de Guatemala (AFAMIDEG); Asociación Comunitaria Multisectorial de Monitoreo Comunitario en Salud y Apoyo a Migrantes (ACOMUMSAM); Consejo de Juventud para el Desarrollo Ixcoyense  (COJDI); Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP); Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas (FGER); Jóvenes por el Cambio; Asociación Lambda; Médicos del Mundo Francia – España; Mesa Nacional para las Migraciones en Guatemala (MENAMIG); Molanil K´inal B´e; Mamá Maquin; Pastoral Social La Libertad Cristo de Esquipulas; Pop Noj’; Red  Juvenil Ak´Molam; Sociedad Civil


[1] Kirk Semple, “EEUU quiere que México se encargue de los migrantes en busca de asilo”,

[2] Entrevista de Luis Videgaray, Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, del 28 de noviembre de 2018

[3] Informe: México y el Acuerdo de Tercer País Seguro. Negación del derecho de asilo y externalización de las fronteras. Programa de las Américas. Disponible en línea. Dirección URL:

[4] Un Tweet del Presidente Donald Trump de 24 de noviembre parece confirmar el planteamiento de este acuerdo.

Ver también: María Dolores Paris Pombo, “ Qué significa el programa “Quédate en México” y en que difiere de “México como Tercer País Seguro””,


[6] Paris Pombo, Loc. Cit.

Meissner D., Hipsman, F. y Aleinikoff A., The U.S. Asylum System in Crisis. Charting a Way Forward. Migration Policy Institute, 18 de Septiembre 2018, file:///Users/User/Desktop/MPI-AsylumSystemInCrisis-Final.pdf

[7] “Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command Supports Guatemala in Urban Combat”,

[8] U.S. Plans to Pay Mexico to Deport Unauthorized Immigrants There

[9] El gobierno de México continuará con la cooperación en materia de migración que se tiene con el gobierno de EUA. Comunicado conjunto Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores- Secretaría de Gobernación. Disponible en línea. Dirección URL: se-tiene-con-el-gobierno-de-eua?state=published