As US Brings Back ‘Stay in Mexico’ Policy, Mexico Makes Changes to Its Own Southern Border

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A new set of policies will come into force in Mexico that will help migrants to temporarily stay and work in the country.

The change came suddenly and was partly a response to the Biden administration’s relaunch of Migrant Protection Protocols, or “stay in Mexico” program for asylum seekers.

Maria Verza, a Mexico City-based Associated Press reporter, told Texas Standard how the new policies are designed to reduce immigration pressure on Mexico’s southern border. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been slightly edited for clarity:

Texas Standard: What is Mexico doing differently on immigration now that the stay-in-Mexico policy has been reinstated here in the United States?

Mary Verza: Well, the main difference, and it happened a few weeks before Remain in Mexico, was to give humanitarian visas to a lot of people who were stranded in southern Mexico. The south of Mexico was terribly populated and life was quite hard there. I mean, tens of thousands of migrants are still arriving. No jobs, no facilities, no shelter. So the new idea was OK. Instead of stopping there, let’s give them humanitarian visas that could allow them to travel anywhere in 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 travel from the south to other states in Mexico. It is not a new instrument, but it has been used [very sparingly before.] And the good news for migrants is that in the northern states there are more jobs.

Do you have any idea how ordinary Mexican citizens are reacting to what is happening on the northern and southern border? Do they like the idea of ​​these humanitarian visas when a lot of people come to Mexico, but they can’t go to the United States as many of them might have expected?

In the south, the last time I was there, feelings were a bit mixed. Some were fed up with migrants. Racism grew more and more. And that’s real, especially because there are now a lot of jobs in the south. So there is a problem. But of course, when you have a lot of migrants in the same place and especially when these migrants are not working and they are just stuck in their camp, there is a problem. There is a problem of racism, especially with Haitians.

What was the reaction of ordinary people in Mexico – in Mexico City, where you are – when they learned that these migrant protection protocols were being reimposed?

Oh, usually they don’t like it because it means more migrants coming to Mexico and there are a lot of them. Border towns are very worried because their capacity is not high, even though governments have found ways to have more shelter and more security. But they are worried, very worried. And insecurity is a subject, especially on the border of Texas and Tamaulipas.

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