Mexico, among the five countries with the highest number of asylum applications in 2023

The report "Hope for a New Home" highlights the challenges and progress in managing refuge and protection for those fleeing violence and insecurity in their countries of origin 
Un grupo de personas atraviesa en balsa el río Suchiate, cruzando la frontera entre Guatemala y México - FILE/ONU/Luis Arroyo
A group of people raft across the Suchiate River, crossing the border between Guatemala and Mexico - FILE/ONU/Luis Arroyo
  1. Limited essential services
  2. Entering the labour market 

The annual report of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reveals that more than 140,000 people applied for asylum in Mexico last year, reflecting the growing need for international protection. These figures place Mexico among the five countries with the highest number of new asylum applications globally. 

At the same time, it received hundreds of thousands of people in transit northwards and seven states experienced an increase in internal displacement.  

In terms of the origin of asylum seekers, the report reveals that people of more than 100 nationalities applied for asylum in Mexico in 2023. Haiti was the country with the highest representation (31%), followed by Honduras (30%), Cuba (13%), and Guatemala, El Salvador and Venezuela with 4% each. 

According to UNHCR's Protection Monitor, more than half of the people on the move cited violence, insecurity and threats as the main reasons for leaving their countries of origin. In addition, 66% indicated that their lives, safety or freedom would be at risk if they were returned to their places of origin. 

The report, entitled Hope for a new home, highlights that, with the support of the UN agency, the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid was able to cope with the increase in asylum applications. Since 2018, this agency has quadrupled its capacity to respond, managing to increase the rate of recognition of refugee status from 65% in 2022 to 69% in 2023. 

However, the report also notes that challenges remain in consolidating the Commission's structure and operational capacity, as well as ensuring an adequate budget to address persons in need of international protection. 

Dos hombres caminan junto al muro fronterizo que divide México de Estados Unidos - © OIM/Camilo Cruz
Two men walk by the border fence dividing Mexico from the United States - © IOM/Camilo Cruz

Limited essential services

Since the end of 2023, asylum seekers have faced obstacles in accessing documentation, resulting in limited access to essential services and increased protection risks, such as fraud and extortion. 

The report also highlights the impact of the termination of Title 42 and the introduction of the CBPOne digital application in the US, which led to extended waiting periods in the border zone on the Mexican side, exposing people to increased risks such as robbery, kidnapping or extortion. 

In response to this situation, UNHCR provided support and assistance to 89 shelters run by faith-based and civil society organisations, especially in Mexico City and northern cities, where the capacity of these spaces was affected by the increase in people on the move. 

In addition, UNHCR and a wide network of legal partners facilitated access to the asylum process and essential care through 238,000 services, ranging from counselling to legal advice and representation. 

Entering the labour market 

Since 2016, thanks to the Local Integration Programme, 35,000 refugees have been incorporated into the formal labour market in Mexico, accessing basic services such as education and health, with the support of more than 600 companies that have joined the project. 

Finally, the report highlights the eight commitments presented by the Mexican government at the Global Forum on Refugees, held in Geneva in December, which seek to strengthen and implement a public policy for the care of refugees and asylum seekers, promoting their socio-economic inclusion through health, employment and education services.