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Mexico - Refugees

On January 26, 2011, the Refugees and Complementary Protection Act (Ley sobre Refugiados y Protección Complementaria),was enacted, which provides among other principles: non-refoulement, no discrimination, the superior interest of the child, family unity, non-penalisation for irregular entry, and confidentiality of information for foreigners that arrive in the country as refugee claimants or for humanitarian protection.

In this matter, the SEGOB, through the Mexican Commission of Assistance to Refugees (Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados - COMAR), is responsible for the recognition of refugee status. In addition, the SEGOB, with the support of COMAR, is in charge of the promotion and coordination of public actions, strategies, and programs, directed towards the protection and assistance of refugees and applicants; the promotion of lasting solutions to the problems facing refugees, and orientation to applicants and refugees found in the national territory regarding their rights and duties; establishment of coordinating evidence and procedures between federal, state, municipal dependencies and entities, the Federal District and their Delegations, that participate in assistance to refugees; and the dissemination and promotion of international refugee law, among other powers.

The new Law recognises that a person who bases his/her fear on the threat to his/her life, safety, or liberty, may obtain refugee status if he/she submits reasons arising from the 1951 Convention –race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or belonging to a certain social group-, as well as those contained in the 1984 Declaration of Cartagena –generalised violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights, or other circumstances that have seriously affected public order. Additionally, persecution due to gender, acts related to sexual, domestic, and family violence, female genital mutilation, punishment for infringement of moral values and customs, among other causes, provided that the state of origin is incapable or negligent in providing effective protection, are also included.

The Law itself establishes that when an applicant does satisfy the requirements to be recognised as a refugee, the Ministry must, in each case, evaluate if the foreigner requires complementary protection to not be returned to the territory of another country in which his/her life is in danger or in which exist grounded reasons to believe that he/she would be in danger of being submitted to torture or other treatments, or cruel, inhumane or degrading sentences.

With this Law, refugees are no longer categorised as Non-Immigrant and automatically become permanent residents, as is similarly established in Article 54 of the 2011 Migration Act.

As is the case with refugee status, the complementary protection granted may be cancelled only in the following cases:

  1. Where it is discovered that a foreigner concealed or falsified information provided, or
  2. When circumstances that caused recognition of the refugee status or the granting of complementary protection disappear.

The Law further provides that refugees, by virtue of the conditions found when exiting their country of origin, should receive greater assistance to access and guaranties established in the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States and the human rights instruments ratified by the MexicanState.  Refugees may dedicate themselves to any activity, provided that it is licit, and obtain the identification and travel document issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; request family reunification, and obtain the immigration document issued by the INM that accredits his/her legal stay in the country as a refugee.