A.      Introduction


143.        As part of the work related to its mandate to promote human rights, the Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Their Families of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has made contacts with several governments to observe the human rights conditions of migrant workers and their families in the member countries of the OAS on the ground.  Accepting a kind invitation by the Government of Mexico, a delegation of the IACHR visited Mexico from July 25 to August 1, 2002, to collect information on the situation of migrant workers in Mexico. The delegation was led by Juan E. Méndez, Special Rapporteur for Migrant Workers and Their Families, who was joined by Helena Olea and Andreas Feldmann, members of the Rapporteurship team.


144.        The visit of the Rapporteurship was very important, given the importance of migration for Mexico.  The migration of Mexicans to the United States of America represents the largest migratory flow in the region and one of the leading migratory movements in the world. At the same time, given its geographic position (Mexico shares a 3,200 kilometer border with the United States), Mexico has become one of the most important transit countries for migrants in the world.  Each year thousands of persons cross Mexican territory in order to reach the United States and Canada.  Moreover, a large number of migrant workers and other migrants immigrate to Mexico. Many of these persons, especially Guatemalan citizens and other Central Americans, migrate seasonally to Mexico to find work in agriculture, construction, and domestic service.  In other words, given its three-fold role as a sending country, a receiving country, and a transit country for migrants, as well as the huge numbers of persons involved, migration is of tremendous importance in the political, social, and economic development of Mexico and the region.


145.        While in the Republic of Mexico, the Rapporteurship visited three cities–Mexico City, Tapachula, and Ciudad Juárez–as well as several points along the border between Mexico and Guatemala in western Chiapas (Ciudad Hidalgo, el Manguito, and Talismán) and along the northern border between Mexico and the United States in the area around Ciudad Juárez.  One member of the delegation crossed the border post to El Paso, United States.  The Rapporteurship delegation held meetings with several government officials and representatives of civil society organizations and the Catholic Church.


146.        Among the government officials with whom the delegation met were: Javier Moctezuma Barragán, Undersecretary for Population, Migration, and Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación); Felipe de Jesús Preciado Coronado, Commissioner of the National Migration Institute (INM);[13] Mariclaire Acosta, Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry (SRE, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores); Juan José Gómez Camacho, Director General for Human Rights of the Foreign Ministry; Roberto Rodríguez Hernández, Director General for Protection and Consular Affairs, Foreign Ministry; Gustavo Mohar Betancourt, Negotiator for International Migration Matters, Foreign Ministry; Aldo Flores Quiroga, Director General for Bilateral Economic Relations, Foreign Ministry; Juan Manuel Gómez_Robledo, General Counsel, Foreign Ministry; Francisco Olguín, Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH); José Antonio Bernal, Third Visitor-General of the CNDH; David Bosada, official of the CNDH; Alejandro Ramos Flores, Deputy Prosecutor for International Legal Affairs of the Office of the Attorney General (PGR: Procuraduría General de la República); Mario Álvarez Ledesma, Director General for Human Rights Protection of the PGR; Senator Silvia Hernández (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate; Deputy Irma Piñeyro (PRI), Chair of the Committee on Population, Border Issues and Migration of the Chamber of Deputies; Antonio del Valle Martínez, Director General for Human Rights Protection, Ministry of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública); Nicolás Suárez, principal member of the Intelligence Coordinating Group of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP); Carlos Tirado Zavala, Coordinator of International and Inter-institutional Relations (INM); Saúl Ronquillo García, Director for Protection of Migrants, INM; José Luis Velásquez Pulido, Director for Enforcement of Sanctions, INM; Alejandro Alcántara, Chief, Iztapalapa Detention Facility; Martín Salido Orcillo Campoy, State Delegate, PGR, Chiapas State Delegation; Commander Manuel González Aguilar, in charge of the Tapachula Police District, PFP; Carlos García Mondragón, municipal comptroller (Síndico Presidencial Municipal) of Chiapas; Rafael Sommers González, Secretary of Municipal Government, Tapachula; Ivonne Abarco of the Human Rights Office of the Interior Ministry, State Government of Chiapas; Javier Miguel Bolaños Sánchez, Regional Delegate of the INM;  Israel Zamora Llatas, Assistant Local Delegate, INM; Luz María Servín Sotres, Director of International Affairs, INM; José Pedro Tello Cuevas, Operational Director of the Migrant Protection Groups (BETA) southern zone; Oscar Francisco Yáñez, President of the State Human Rights Commission, State of Chihuahua; Lorenzo Aquino Miranda, State Delegate, PGR, Chihuahua; Juan José Huerta Flores, Delegate of the Foreign Ministry, Ciudad Juárez; Adalberto Balderrama Fernández, Delegado del INM, Ciudad Juárez; Juan Carlos Cué Vega, Consul in El Paso; Carlos González Magallón, Consul in Nogales; General (ret.) Margarito Ruiz Negrete, National Director of the Beta Group; and Guillermo Romero, Principal Inspector PFP, Police District Sector VIII.15 Ciudad Juárez.


147.        During its visit to Mexico, the delegation of the Rapporteurship also met with civil society organizations, academics, and members of the Catholic Church who work on issues related to migration and migrant workers in Mexico. During his stay in Mexico City, the Special Rapporteur met with members of the Foro Migraciones, a network of organizations and academics who work on various aspects of migration.[14] This network was created in 2001; its objective is to create a space for dialogue, study, and exchange of information with a view to moving forward in understanding migration and determining priorities for action to address it.  The members of the delegation also met with representatives of the Casas del Migrante, hostels serving migrants directed by the Scalabrini religious order, in Tapachula and Ciudad Juárez. In Tapachula, the representatives of the Rapporteurship held meetings with members of the Foro Migraciones, the Colegio Frontera Sur, and human rights promoters from Tapachula.  In addition, in Mexico City they met with members of the Red Mexicana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio (Mexican Free Trade Action Network).[15]  


148.        The Rapporteurship found a high level of cooperation from each and every one of the Mexican authorities. They not only politely cooperated in organizing the visit, but were also open to hold open and frank conversations about the situation of migrant workers and their families in Mexico.  In addition, several Mexican authorities sent the Rapporteurship additional information after the visit to complement the information offered during the respective meetings, or to provide updates on events or actions that impacted on migration in Mexico. The Rapporteurship also asked the Mexican Government for additional information on specific aspects. On July 1, 2003, the Rapporteurship received the latest of a series of communiques in which the state answered the request for additional information. Representatives of civil society organizations and researchers also showed an excellent disposition to collaborate with the Rapporteurship team. In this regard, the Rapporteurship wishes to make special mention of the organization Sin Fronteras, which provided essential assistance in this visit.  The Rapporteurship wishes to express gratitude to and highlight the excellent spirit of cooperation of each and every one of the organizations and individuals mentioned above.  The information provided by all the persons interviewed is an important part of the material used to prepare this report.


149.        The report of the Rapporteurship’s visit to Mexico is divided into ten sections plus the conclusions and recommendations. The second describes the methodology used. In order to place the situation of migrant workers and Mexican citizens abroad in context, the third section examines the general context of migration in Mexico. The report then analyzes the impact of migration on Mexico’s economic, social, and demographic development.  In the fifth section, the report discusses migration policy and practice, and describes the legal regime and institutional framework of the state for responding to the needs of the migrant population. Subsequently, in the sixth section, the report analyzes the problems related to the trafficking, smuggling, and conveyance of migrants in Mexico. The seventh section analyzes due process guarantees and practices in respect of migration. The eighth part describes the situation of persons deprived of liberty, in particular how the deprivation of liberty of a person for migratory reasons occurs and the conditions in the centers where migrant workers and other migrants are held in Mexico. The ninth part of the report refers to labor, economic, social, and cultural rights.  The tenth section summarizes the practices of the Mexican State to protect its nationals abroad.  The report concludes with a summary of the most important observations from the mission, highlighting best practices and also areas in which shortcomings were observed in the treatment of migrant workers and other migrants.  As part of this section, and in response to our mandate to promote human rights, the Rapporteurship offers recommendations to the Government of Mexico, to other states whose nationals migrate to Mexico or travel through Mexico on their way to other states in North America, and to the relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.


150.        The draft report was adopted by the Commission in July 2003. In keeping with Article 58 of the IACHR’s Rules of Procedure, this report was transmitted to the Government of Mexico in July, asking that it submit the observations it considered pertinent within one month. On August 28, 2003, by communication OEA-02133 from the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the Organization of American States, Mexico submitted its observations. The Commission, in keeping with its Rules of Procedure, studied those observations and proceeded to include those it deemed pertinent.


B.           Methodology


151.        As guidance for preparing the following report, the Rapporteurship used the working methodology normally used by the IACHR to carry out its on-site visits.  This is a standardized procedure that has guided the IACHR’s work for several decades.  The methodology that the IACHR uses is common to that of other intergovernmental organizations dedicated to monitoring the human rights situation in the world.[16] For various reasons, including the duration of the visits and the limited human resources of the IACHR, the reports regarding on-site visits and the visits of the Special Rapporteurships (such as this one) do not claim to offer an exhaustive view of the human rights situation in a country, but rather to call attention to specific human rights problems afflicting the countries visited.  At the same time, the reports wish to highlight best practices relating to human rights so as to encourage other member states of the OAS to emulate those actions.


152.        The assessments set forth in the following report are based on two main elements.  First, primary sources such as the testimony of migrant workers and members of their families as well as different persons linked to several institutions, including the executive branch, the legislative branch, the Ombudsman and judicial staff of the state in question, academics, and members of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.  To guarantee the equanimity and impartiality of its reports, as a general rule the IACHR always meets with the broadest possible array of individuals and organizations. In this way, it seeks to guarantee that it obtains the most representative, reliable, and exhaustive vision possible.  Similarly, in preparing its reports, the IACHR ensures that all the parties interviewed are cited in the report.  Nonetheless, on some occasions the source of a statement is not cited, if the source specifically requested not to be cited.  Moreover, the reports also draw on secondary sources such as academic studies, reports, and documents. As in the case of primary sources, the IACHR and the Rapporteurship are always careful to ensure that those sources are credible and serious.


153.        This report has drawn on the widest array of information, and the Rapporteurship did lengthy research prior to the visit.  During and after the visit, the drafters and researchers of the report corroborated and complemented the information obtained. The contents and comments are the result of a lengthy research effort that was conscientiously discussed and weighed by the Rapporteur and his team, and then submitted to the plenary of seven commissioners of the IACHR, who approved the final version.


C.      Migration in Mexico


154.        Migration is a social phenomenon of great importance in the national life of Mexico. As indicated in the introduction, Mexico is a sending country, a transit country, and a receiving country of migrant workers and their families.  In other words, this phenomenon affects Mexican nationals residing abroad, Mexican nationals in Mexico, and foreigners residing in or in transit through Mexico.  Given the many facets and ramifications of migration in Mexico, the migration issue is not only very important, but also highly complex. In view of its importance, migration has become one of the most relevant and critical areas in Mexico’s international relations.  This is reflected by the importance Mexico attributes to the issue in its international policy, especially in its bilateral relationship with the United States of America.  This interest is also expressed in the leading role Mexico plays fostering migration-related initiatives in international fora and within inter-governmental organizations that address the issue.


          Mexico as sending country


155.        While Mexico has historically received a large number of immigrants and refugees,[17] the migration of Mexicans abroad, especially to the United States, and to a lesser extent to Canada, is no doubt the most important characteristic of migration in Mexico.


156.        The migration of Mexicans to the United States is long-standing. Facilitated by geographic proximity and a 3,200-kilometer border, and the profound ties that unite both countries, a large number of Mexicans have established themselves in the United States, and a large number of U.S. citizens have established themselves in Mexico.  Numerous communities of Mexicans (nearly 50,000 persons) came to reside in U.S. territory from 1845 to 1848, after the secession of Texas and the subsequent conclusion of the Mexican-U.S. war (1846 to 1848), and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.[18] The presence of these communities attracted and facilitated the migration of Mexicans to the United States from the second part of the 19th century to the beginning of World War II. This pattern was reinforced in the 1940s with the implementation of what was known as the “Bracero Program” (1942 to 1964).  As a result of this program, over 4.5 million Mexican workers crossed the border to work temporarily in various jobs, especially agricultural. After the end of the Bracero program (1964), albeit with ups and downs, the flow of Mexicans who migrated to the United States increased gradually, especially over the last two decades. The flow includes persons with visas and/or work permits, as well as migrant workers who cross the border irregularly.[19]


157.        According to the latest census done by the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2001 some 20.6 million persons of Mexican origin were living in United States (7.3% of the total U.S. population). Of these persons, 8 to 8.5 million were born in Mexican territory, and 3 to 3.5 million reside in the United States irregularly.[20] According to figures from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)[21] for the year 2000, 130,000 Mexican emigrate legally to the United States each year; another 3.4 million enter the United States with various non-immigrant visas, while each year there are 213,000 temporary crossings of the Mexico-U.S. border. The INS figures estimate that each year approximately 150,000 Mexicans cross the border irregularly.[22] In the last two years the number of irregular crossings has increased. Indeed, according to projections by the Latin American Center for Demographics (CELADE), in the 2000-2005 period, the rate of emigration of Mexicans to the United States is expected to reach 2.9 per 1,000, which would mean an annual exit of some 300,000 Mexicans to the United States.[23] 


158.        Historically, the lion’s share of Mexicans who migrate to the United States have come from the states of central and central-western Mexico, such as Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, Durango, Colima, and Aguascalientes.[24] In recent years, however, there has been diversification with respect to the states of origin of Mexican migrant workers. And so persons from states such as Puebla, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Tlaxcala, Morelos, Hidalgo, and the Federal District have also begun to migrate to the United States. The migration of Mexicans from the border region is of a smaller scale and much more recent (this includes the states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California).[25]


159.        Given the scale and long history of Mexican migration to the United States, Mexican communities have established themselves in practically every state of the union.  Paradoxically, this trend was accentuated with the legalization of 2.3 million Mexicans that resulted from the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, a law whose purpose was to inhibit the migration of undocumented persons. As these persons regularized their status, they decided to move to other states of the union. Similarly, the arrival of Mexicans to other parts of the United States is due to the rejection by part of the population of the migration of Mexicans (especially in California, where restrictive measures against irregular immigrants were adopted, such as Proposition 187), and the pressure for a policy to control and restrict migration which resulted in strengthening border controls along the southern border of the United States.  While this trend could be observed throughout the 1980s, it was reinforced, especially as of 1993. In this regard, the gradual and massive reinforcement of the border in traditional areas or points of entry from Mexico to California and Texas diverted a large part of the irregular border crossings to Arizona, which had not been a traditional area for crossing.[26]


160.        As a result, in addition to the traditional communities of Mexicans in California, Texas, and Illinois, other more recent communities have emerged in New York, Colorado, Washington, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Idaho, Nebraska, Florida, and Wisconsin.  A large part of the Mexicans who have immigrated to the United States have established themselves in urban areas where they formed large and visible communities in cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and more recently New York.[27] Furthermore, since 1974, there has been a small program for Mexican temporary workers, or sojourners, who migrate seasonally to work in agriculture.  This program (H2A) recruits 40,000 workers each year.[28] Far fewer Mexicans reside in Canada. According to Canada’s 1996 census, 23,295 Mexicans were living in Canada. At present the figure comes to approximately 35,000.  The number of Mexicans who immigrate to Canada is growing at 8% per year.  In addition, almost 9,000 Mexicans migrated to Canada as temporary agricultural workers through the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.  In summary, almost 10% of the Mexican population (estimated at 100 million) resides abroad.[29]


161.        As in many countries of Latin America, Mexico has observed, especially since the 1960s, major rural-urban migration within the country.  The leading destinations are the large urban areas like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Veracruz, Ciudad Juárez, Tijuana, and Puebla, among others.  Most migrate in search of better job opportunities and to gain access to basic social services such as education and health care for themselves and their families. Of late, another interesting phenomenon has been observed: many persons from rural sectors, especially from central and northern Mexico (Sinaloa, Durango, Federal District, Coahuila, Jalisco, Sonora, and Guanajuato), have begun to migrate to border cities in northern Mexico in search of employment in the maquila industry, which tends to offer better pay than the traditional agricultural activities in the communities of origin.[30]


          Description of the social and economic situation in Mexico


162.        Numerous factors, both economic and social, drive the migration of Mexicans abroad. Accordingly, in order to better understand the context in which Mexicans emigrate, the report very succinctly describes the most outstanding characteristics of the country’s socioeconomic situation. Like most of the countries of Latin America and much of the Caribbean, in economic and social terms Mexico historically has been a developing country characterized by social problems. These include, among others, high rates of poverty and inequity. In terms of social and economic indicators, however, Mexico has made major advances in the last three decades. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) considers Mexico to have an intermediate level of development. Mexico ranks 54th in the Human Development Index, below other Latin American countries such as Argentina (34), Chile (38), Uruguay (40), and Costa Rica (43), but above Cuba (55), Panama (57), Colombia (68), Venezuela (69), and Brazil (73).[31] Mexico has several human development indicators that are quite positive: According to the UNDP, in 2002 the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was US$ 9,023; life expectancy was 72.6 years; literacy, 91.4%; 74% of the population resided in urban areas, and the combined school enrollment rate was 71%.[32]


163.        After suffering a severe crisis in 1994-95, the Mexican economy has shown signs of recovery. The economy was characterized by major vitality from 1996 to 2000, growing 5.5% annually. In 2001, however, the economy contracted 0.3% due largely to the recession in the United States, Mexico’s principal trading partner and investor.[33] Mexican exports, however, have grown sharply,[34] annual inflation has come down from 28% in 1981 to 5.7% in 2002, external indebtedness has dropped from 32.4% of GDP in 1993 to 23.4% in 2001, and foreign investment climbed from US$5.43 billion an overage from 1990 to 1994, to US$14.192 billion in 2000, and US$24.731 billion in 2001.[35] The Mexican economy has developed thanks to the consolidation of a series of industries, and to major economic diversification.[36] According to the World Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Mexico’s economic growth is due in part to the following factors: the increased dynamism of the private sector, the benefits brought about by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)[37] with the United States and Canada (which entered into force in 1994), and prudent macroeconomic management by the administrations of Presidents Ernesto Zedillo (1995-2000, PRI) and Vicente Fox (2000-2005, Partido Acción Nacional), characterized by controlling inflation through fiscal and monetary austerity.[38]


164.        Despite these advances, major economic and social problems persist in Mexico. Mexico has high poverty and great disparities between urban and rural sectors, as well as between the states of the north and the states of the south (generally less developed). According to the World Bank, 45 million Mexicans, approximately 45% of the population, are poor (defined as persons living on less than US$2 a day). Ten million of these persons live in extreme poverty (living on less than US$1 a day), and do not have access to drinking water or adequate nutrition. Five percent of the population suffers malnutrition; 27% do not have access to adequate sanitary conditions (sewerage); 14% do not have access to drinking water.[39]

165.        There are also serious problems with income distribution. In the wake of the policy to re-distribute lands promoted by Venustiano Carranza after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) by creating collectively-held lands (ejidos), Mexico attained considerably more egalitarian income distribution than observed in other countries of Latin America.[40] Nonetheless, several authors agree that in recent decades disparity has increased with the implementation of neoliberal economic policies characterized by deregulation, trade liberalization, and privatization.[41] A study indicates than in 1984 and 1994, the Gini coefficient (index of income distribution) rose from 0.46 to 0.51. This means that whereas in 1984 the wealthiest 10% of Mexican households received 34.29% of the country’s total income, and the poorest 10% received 1.19% of total income; ten years later the wealthiest 10% were receiving 41.29%, while the poorest 10% were receiving 1.01%.[42] Employment is also worrisome. While the official rate of unemployment in Mexico is low (2.4% for 2002), the rate of part-time employment or underemployment (which includes open unemployment and persons who work less than 35% weekly) came to 19% in 2001.  Similarly, the informal sector continues to be quite large and absorbs a large percentage of labor from the formal sector, a trend that has been more pronounced in recent years. In 2001, 47% of the economically active population in Mexico received no labor benefits whatsoever.[43] Trends in remuneration (average real wages) have also been negative, having fallen in relation to the 1990s (109.7 in 1993; 90.1 in 1996; 98 in 2000; and 104.1 in 2001; index 1995 = 100).[44]


166.        Although there have been substantial improvements in the last decade, Mexico continues suffering shortcomings in terms of infrastructure and provision of social services.[45] There are 186 physicians per 100,000 population,[46] and 125 telephone lines per 1,000 population.[47] Beyond the shortcomings in terms of their availability, some social services such as education and medical care do not meet minimum conditions of quality, especially in rural sectors.[48] In this sense, poverty and underdevelopment are particularly pronounced in rural sectors and for the indigenous communities in states of southern Mexico such as Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Tabasco.[49] Mexico also has one the lowest rates of tax collection in the region (10% of GDP).[50]


          Factors that motivate the emigration of Mexicans


167.        The reasons that explain the migration of Mexicans to the United States are much more complex than is generally thought.  As indicated, social, economic, cultural, and historical factors interact in highly complex ways, resulting in this vast movement of people.


168.        The Mexico-U.S. Binational Study on Migration (1997) indicates that while numerous factors determine and maintain the migration of Mexicans to the United States, three major factors stand out: labor demand in the United States, excess labor supply in Mexico; and the existence of social networks of migrants and contacts that extend beyond the border.[51]


169.        Objective conditions of underdevelopment, lack of labor opportunities, the wage differential,[52] and the lack of access to credit, among others, are no doubt very important factors.  Also important is the growing harmonization and inter-penetration of the economies of Mexico and the United States. Increasingly the U.S. economy, particularly sectors such as agriculture and certain services that normally employ relatively unskilled workers, depend on the labor of foreign workers, especially Mexicans.  In addition, the liberalization of the Mexican economy has provoked a series of changes in the productive structure, thereby fostering migration. The process of modernization and opening of the agricultural sector (the mechanization of productive processes, for example) has displaced labor from rural areas in Mexico.  Similarly, the dismantling of the system of import substitution, the contraction of the state apparatus, and new challenges of competitiveness for the private sector derived from competition in the international markets, have contributed to many persons losing their jobs and having to seek new alternatives for earning a living. In other words, job insecurity and economic uncertainty in Mexico force many individuals or families to recur to migration as a way to survive.  In this sense, the decision to migrate reflects not only the desire to increase one’s income, but also the need to minimize the risk, guaranteeing an income and overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of consumption and capital goods.[53]


170.        In terms of the motivations for migrating, the decision to emigrate is not determined exclusively by an economic cost-benefit calculation. The possibility of gaining access to certain social benefits and of increasing the possibilities for social mobility and social status, especially for the descendants of the persons who migrate, also plays an important role.  In this sense, forming transnational communities that maintain links with their country of origin to which they send remittances and information, and from which they often receive new members, are no doubt an important element for understanding the consistency of migratory flows.[54] In the case of Mexico, as already indicated, the presence of long-standing communities of Mexican immigrants, which facilitate the arrival of other members of their families or people from their communities, is very important in fostering migration.  The communities of Mexicans in the United States help their compatriots plan and finance their travel and find work in the U.S. labor market.[55] Indeed, to ensure their collective survival, many Mexican families decide to send one of their members abroad. This decision is aimed not only at increasing incomes, but at diversifying sources of family income.[56] Similarly, for many young people, especially in urban areas, migration to the United States is considered a rite of passage to adulthood.


          Obstacles to migration: Militarization of the border and migrant deaths


171.        Historically the lengthy border between Mexico and the United States was not subject to all that much surveillance by the authorities.  Except for a brief period in 1954 when the pressure of public opinion, especially in Texas,[57] forced the U.S. authorities to redouble migration controls, up until the 1980s migration controls were tenuous or simply non-existent in much of the border area.  Some authors indicate that the control was symbolic. Indeed, following a trial-and-error pattern, the Mexicans apprehended at the border and deported to Mexico generally sought again to cross the border until they succeeded in entering U.S. territory.  The scant border surveillance and the absence of a criminal law provision on recidivism of unauthorized entry contributed to making migration a circular phenomenon, i.e. undocumented migrants would return periodically to Mexico and then head northward once again.[58]


172.        As a result of the growth in the immigration of undocumented Mexicans as of the end of the Bracero program (1964), and the subsequent economic crisis that affected the United States in the 1970s, some sectors of public opinion in the United States began to demand that the border be reinforced to control the entry of Mexicans.[59] This trend was accentuated as of the promulgation of the IRCA and later another series of legislative initiatives and laws aimed at restricting the migration of undocumented persons.[60]


173.        As a reflection of the pressure of U.S. public opinion favorable to strengthening migratory controls, as of 1993 the Clinton administration stepped up border surveillance exponentially.[61] The Democratic administration increased the INS budget from US$1.5 billion in 1993 to US$4 billion in 1999.  A part of these resources was earmarked to strengthening border control.  As a result of these policies, in one decade the Border Patrol went from being a small force (comparable to the police department of a medium-sized city) to a very large force with more than 11,000 members and a budget of US$711 million in 2003.[62] In addition to the increase in the number of border guards, the United States invested large sums in state-of-the-art technology such as closed-circuit TV cameras, infrared radar, movement detectors, lights, helicopters, and all-terrain vehicles.  With the collaboration of Army troops and reservists, the U.S. authorities built numerous defenses and containment walls, several kilometers long, in several border areas, especially near major border cities such as San Diego, in California, El Paso and Laredo in Texas, and Nogales in Arizona.  At the same time, the immigration authorities implemented several contingency plans or special operations (Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego, California, Operation Safeguard in Nogales, Arizona, and Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, Texas) to prevent border crossings by undocumented persons.[63] These measures were supplemented by reforms to the 1986 immigration law.[64] Subsequently, the terrorist attacks of September 2001 led to even tighter measures to prevent the entry of irregular migrants.


174.        There have been many consequences of tightening border controls, generally quite negative.  First, despite the new controls, the number of persons who enter the United States undocumented has not diminished. Paradoxically, the number of apprehensions by the Border Patrol has declined steadily since 1986. That trend has held steady after the implementation of operations to control migration near urban areas.[65] The most serious effect, however, has been the increasing number of deaths of persons who try to cross. The strict border controls near urban areas in California and Texas have meant that those who try to cross the border do so in uninhabited and relatively unpatrolled areas in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.[66] As a result, more and more people have died due to asphyxia, hypothermia, dehydration, accidents, or drowning when trying to cross in inaccessible and unpatrolled areas such as deserts, voluminous rivers, canyons, streams, and mountainous zones where they must contend with difficult conditions or make their way past dangerous obstacles. From 1993 to 1997, the number of deaths of persons trying to cross the border in such circumstances tripled. According to official figures, from 1994 to 2002, 2,200 people died trying to cross the border into the United States.[67] As of June 15, 2003, 89 persons had died. According to a spokesperson for the Border Patrol, in recent years that agency has rescued some 4,200 persons who were in serious danger of losing their lives.[68] The Mexican government informed the Rapporteurship in its response to this report that in June 2003, “Operation Desert Rescue” was implemented; it seeks to protect migrants in the Arizona-Sonora border region. This effort includes information campaigns through mass media and the installation of two rescue towers in the Sonoran desert in Mexico. In another very worrisome development, of late, especially since September 11, 2001, several racist or xenophobic paramilitary or vigilante groups, such as the Homeland Defense Volunteers, have begun to patrol the border to prevent the entry of undocumented migrants from Latin America.  Heavily armed, these groups seek out persons trying to cross the border to enter the United States. Those who happen upon these groups are held against their will and then handed over to the Border Patrol.  Many migrants have testified to the rude treatment and even threats that they received from such groups. This phenomenon has been seen mainly in Arizona.[69]


175.        Another negative development provoked in part by the new border controls has been the increased demand for the services of smugglers and those who traffic in humans (coyotes) (this is analyzed in more detail in section VII).[70] In some cases these persons use risky methods and routes that help explain the increased number of persons who die when trying to cross the border. Finally, the implementation of border controls supplemented by measures to facilitate the deportation and prosecution of persons who enter or remain in the United States irregularly, especially since the entry into force of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 has cut circular migration at its roots.  In other words, as explained above, many Mexican migrants were accustomed to returning regularly to their communities of origin. The difficulty re-entering the United States, however, has led most to stop returning, opting instead to remain indefinitely in the United States.[71]


176.        In summary, the increase in controls has not led to a substantial decline in the number of persons who cross the border irregularly; to the contrary, such crossings have maintained their upward trend.  Nonetheless, the controls have led migrants to run more risks, including hiring the services of those who participate in the trafficking and smuggling of persons, and risking crossing the border at inhospitable and dangerous places, endangering their lives and physical integrity.


          Mexico as a receiving and transit country


177.        In addition to its status as receiving country, Mexico hosts a relatively large number of immigrants. As indicated above, Mexico historically has opened its doors to refugees and persons suffering political persecution. In addition, given its large labor market (at least compared to Central American and Caribbean countries), Mexico also absorbs a certain number of migrant workers and their families.  Highly-skilled foreigners work in several areas such as industry, commerce, education, and services such as banking and tourism, among others.  Unskilled foreigners, for their part, work in agriculture, construction, and services, or join the ranks of the informal sector of the Mexican economy. Based on statistics from the INM cited by Sin Fronteras, approximately 900,000 foreigners have resided permanently in Mexico for at least five years.  This is equal to approximately 1% of Mexico’s total population. According to the National Population Commission (CONAPO), 63.2% of these persons are U.S. nationals; 11.9% are Europeans; 11.2% Central Americans; 7.3% South Americans; and 6.4% are Asians and Africans.[72] According to CONAPO, most of the foreigners who reside permanently in Mexico are in the states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. Considering the number of migrants who reside in Mexico without adequate documentation, Mexico recently implemented a Program for Migratory Regularization (see section V on immigration policy and practice). In addition, as is the case in other receiving countries, there is no certainty with respect to the number of undocumented migrants who live in Mexico.  To give an idea of the magnitude, according to the INM, 133,485 undocumented foreigners were detained in Mexico in 2002. Many were in transit headed for the United States or Canada.  They were mostly nationals of Guatemala (49.3%), Honduras (30.7%), El Salvador (15%), and Ecuador (1.6%).[73]


178.        Furthermore, each year Mexico receives a considerable number of temporary workers, especially of Guatemalan origin. A significant number, from 80,000 to 100,000 persons, migrate seasonally to the south of Mexico to the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Campeche, and Yucatán to work with the banana, coffee, soybean, and sugar-cane crops, and in the production of other fruits.[74] The crisis in Guatemalan agriculture has increased the number of persons who try to cross into Mexico in search of work (see Section IX).[75] Another large group migrates seasonally or permanently to the states of southern Mexico to work in construction or as artisans.  Of late, a significant number of Guatemalan women have been migrating to border areas such as Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula to work as domestic servants or in the hotel trade.  And many Guatemalan merchants regularly cross into Mexico to sell their goods.[76] According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 10,000 refugees and/or asylum-seekers resided in Mexico in 2002. The vast majority were citizens of Guatemala and El Salvador. Mexico took in 260 new asylum-seekers in 2002.[77]


179.        One of the most salient features of Mexico’s migratory dynamics has to do with the transformation of Mexico into one of the most important countries for the transit of migrants in the world.  Migrants from a very wide array of nationalities enter Mexican territory to try to continue to the United States and Canada. The long and porous border with the United States, and, to a lesser extent, the presence of groups or individuals who can facilitate the border crossing, induces many people to enter Mexico so as to then continue their journey northward.  Most of those who cross through Mexico are Central Americans (Guatemalans, Honduras, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, and Panamanians) en route to the United States.  In addition, of late there has been a small but steady flow of nationals from Ecuador trying to enter Mexico by maritime routes.  Oftentimes these vessels are intercepted at high sea by the U.S. Coast Guard or by the Mexican Navy and forced to anchor in Mexican ports. As a result of progress in transportation (reduced costs and heightened efficiency), in the last decade there has been a significant increase in the number of migrants from other regions coming to Mexico by different means intending to continue to the United States.  These persons are from a wide variety of countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.  Many of these persons arrive thanks to the help of organizations dedicated to the trafficking and smuggling of migrants (see section VI on Trafficking, Smuggling, and Conveyance of migrants).  Some persons stay in Mexico for a short time and then continue on to the United States. Others stay for a longer time in Mexico and try to get or save money to continue their trip.  The Mexican authorities have reported the presence of persons from 50 to 60 countries. As a sample of this trend, in their visit to the INM detention facility at Iztapalapa, the members of the Rapporteurship interviewed persons from Pakistan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Japan, Bosnia, Albania, Syria, Iraq, Macedonia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Palestine, Kosovo, South Korea, Colombia, and Ecuador.  A small percentage of these persons apply for asylum upon arriving in Mexico.


180.        In summary, the situation described highlights Mexico’s strategic geographic position, especially in terms of its proximity to the United States, and how this situation brings the country face-to-face with serious challenges in its migration policy and practice.


          Plan Sur


181.        Aware of the above-mentioned phenomenon, and in order to restrict the flow of undocumented migrants who cross Mexico headed for the United States, in 2001 the Mexican authorities launched Plan Sur, a program that is attempting to stop the passage of undocumented migrants across the southern border by closing the Isthmus of Tehauntepec.  Among the main objectives of Plan Sur are strengthening control and inspection in several border areas to increase the number of detentions of unauthorized migrants, and to control the trafficking and smuggling of persons.  Plan Sur also seeks to reduce abuses of authority and to neutralize the action of groups or gangs of criminals who operate in the area.[78]


182.        To achieve these objectives, the Mexican authorities have sought to strengthen inter-institutional coordination between the federal government and the state and municipal authorities in the border areas in order to make optimal use of available resources.  The operations of Plan Sur include the participation of members of the PFP, the municipal and state police, the Mexican Army and Navy, the judicial police, and INM agents. As part of the plan, included is intelligence work, sharing information, joint operations, prevention and surveillance, and relief and rescue operations through Beta Groups. The Plan also includes sharing information with the authorities of Central American countries, especially Guatemala, but also others, as well as the United States.


183.        As part of Plan Sur, the “Orderly and Safe Repatriation Program” was implemented under which Central American migrants (Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Nicaraguans) apprehended by the authorities in any part of Mexico are taken to the INM detention facility in Tapachula (estancia migratoria), from which they are deported overland in busses under the custody of INM agents, or with security provided by a private company.  Depending on their number, the availability of transport, and the number of persons held at the detention facility (estación migratoria) in Mexico City, migrants apprehended in central or southern Mexico are sent directly to Tapachula or first to the Iztapalapa Migration Station and from there overland to Tapachula.  The Program enjoys the support of the United States immigration authority (until recently known as the INS), which covers part of the cost of deporting the Central American migrants from Mexico to their respective countries of origin (the Orderly and Safe Repatriation Program is discussed in section VII).[79] 


184.        The civil society organizations with which the delegation of the Rapporteurship met criticized Plan Sur, considering that it would be negative to institutionalize the apprehension of migrants by several police entities, immigration agents, and members of the Armed Forces.  In the opinion of some civil society organizations, this only increases the migrants’ vulnerability. According to information provided by human rights organizations, in 2000, a total of 120 Central Americans perished along the southern border.  In addition, according to these sources, greater controls may induce migrants to take more risks, increasing the smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of persons, as well as the number of migrants killed and injured as a result of the routes and means of transportation they decide to use to elude the surveillance of the Mexican authorities.  Finally, they state that, as designed, Plan Sur does not help bring about more control over the treatment the authorities mete out to the migrants.[80]


Activities to protect migrants: Beta Groups, Paisano program, and program for unaccompanied minors


185.        The government of Mexico has taken a series of measures to extend the protection of migrants, both nationals and foreigners, who are in Mexico.  One very interesting initiative has been the creation of the Migrant Protection Groups, also called Beta Groups (Grupos BETA). These groups were created in 1990 during the administration of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-94) for the purpose of protecting the physical integrity and property of migrants trying to cross the northern border.  While the initiative was aimed essentially at protecting Mexican migrants, from the outset the members of the Beta Groups extended their protection services to all migrants, independent of nationality and immigration status.  Among the specific tasks this group carries out, one can mention the provision of first-aid services, rescue work, orientation to the dangers involved in migration (through signs and distribution of pamphlets and informational booklets), social assistance (the members receive complaints and channel reports of abusive situations), lodging, protection from criminals, and channeling reports of abuses by state agents.  The members of the Beta Group are generally former members of the security corps who receive special training.  At present there are 13 groups in the following parts of Mexico: Tijuana, Tecate, Mexicali (Baja California), Nogales, Agua Prieta, Sásabe (Sonora), Ciudad Juárez (Chihuahua), Piedras Negras (Coahuila), Matamoros (Tamaulipas), Acuyucán (Veracruz), Tenosique (Tabasco), and Comitán (Chiapas). The authorities with which the delegation of the Rapporteurship met stated that thanks to the work of this group, thousands of lives have been saved, and the vulnerability of the migrants has diminished.[81]


186.        During its visit to Mexico, the members of the Rapporteurship met with members of the Beta Group in Tapachula and Ciudad Juárez. These persons stood out for their commitment and professionalism. The actions of this group are generally well-received by migrants and by civil society at large. Nonetheless, there are some criticisms that merit special mention. First, during the 12 years since they were established, there have been many reports of corruption and abuses, robberies, and mistreatment by members of the Beta Group.  This was not refuted by the members of the Beta Group or by other authorities with which the delegation of the Rapporteurship met.  In addition, members of civil society indicated their fear that part of the raison d’etre of the Beta Groups is to discourage persons who migrate and to convince them to return to their places of origin.[82] One problem noted by the Rapporteurship has to do with a certain lack of knowledge or confusion that the migrants have in relation to this group.  Since members of the Beta Group belong to the INM (though their uniforms are different from the regular official uniforms used by INM, they wear INM badges), in general migrants identify them with the authorities, and therefore are distrustful of them, as they fear that having contact with these agents could lead to their detention and subsequent deportation.  The delegation from the Rapporteurship observed this dynamic during its visit to the INM detention facility at Tapachula. The migrants detained there had mixed reactions to this group: some said they did not know about the group or its work, and expressed some distrust towards its agents, while others expressed their trust in and sympathy towards its members.  The Mexican government, in its response to this report, informed the Rapporteurship of the recent measures taken by the INM to ensure greater control over the functions and better operativity of the members of the Beta Groups. The measures announced include: replacing the director of the Beta Groups, creating the position of zone supervisor, channeling reports of abuses, training and registering personnel in the National Public Security System,[83] making special efforts to select personnel, and circulating reports that make it possible to identify the protection agents.


187.        Another interesting initiative taken by the Mexican government is the creation of the Programa Paisano, in 2000. This program’s purpose is to provide guidance to Mexicans who are returning to Mexico on issues such as immigration and customs procedures, permits needed to facilitate their stay in the country, tourist information, rights and duties they should be mindful of when returning to the country, and safe routes for travel, among others.  The program also has a mechanism for channeling complaints of mistreatment or abuse by the authorities who interact with Mexicans upon their return.  At the same time, the program warns them of the dangers they face and advises them of precautions to avoid being robbed or deceived by common criminals who await persons who return to rob or swindle them.  Before migrants re-enter Mexico, INM agents and others distribute leaflets and information to them. In addition, the government has recently begun to distribute this information in the United States through its extensive network of consulates.  The program is generally perceived as a success. In the opinion of Senator Silvia Hernández (PRI), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, however, the idea of the Programa Paisano is very good and it is well-designed, but the efforts thus far have been insufficient and should be reinforced.


188.        Another interesting program is the Project for Attention to Border Minors. This program, inter-institutional in nature, was created in 1996 and includes the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National System for the Integral Development of the Family (SNDIF), and the INM.  The program serves and protects Mexican minors deported by the U.S. authorities. As part of the program, the Mexican authorities coordinate with their U.S. counterparts, forwarding information on where the minors are being held.  After the deportation, the Mexican authorities interview and receive the minors and help them find their relatives and return to their communities of origin.[84] Since 1994, the program has served more than 86,000 minors.[85] As part of this protection program, the INM distributes copies of the “Human Rights Primer for Children and Adolescents.” This primer provides important information on the basic human rights of these minors, and on the institutions they can turn to should they need help or guidance.  Similarly, as part of the initiative, the INM announced that it is designing various publicity campaigns using the mass media that will reiterate the need to protect these minors.


          International human rights instruments ratified by Mexico


189.        Mexico has ratified several international human rights treaties that extend basic protections to persons who migrate such as migrant workers and other migrants. The most important such treaties include the following: the United Nations Charter; the Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations; the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons; and the Conventions on Diplomatic Asylum and Territorial Asylum.  In addition, Mexico has ratified a series of regional human rights instruments that also provide for protection for migrant workers. These include: the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; the Charter of the Organization of American States; the American Convention on Human Rights; the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women; the Protocol on the Jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court; the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture; and the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons.  Mexico has also ratified some specific instruments for protecting migrant workers and their families such as the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; Convention 143 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on Migrant Workers; Convention 87 of the ILO on trade union freedom and protection of the right to form and join unions; Convention 29 of the ILO on Forced Labor; Convention 111 of the ILO on discrimination in employment. Recently Mexico ratified the Convention on Organized Transnational Crime (March 2003); its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish the Trafficking of Persons, especially Women and Children; and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (May 2003).[86] In its response to this report, the government of Mexico informed the Rapporteurship that it began a thoroughgoing review of Mexican legislation related to migration for the purpose of bringing it into line with international standards. In this context, the Rapporteurship hopes that this report will be an input for that review process and it will be awaiting news of any legislative reforms in the future.


190.        In addition, Mexico has signed a series of bilateral agreements on immigration matters with some of the countries with which it shares borders. The agreements signed with the United States refer to and/or regulate procedures for repatriation, deportation, and intake of Mexican nationals from the United States.  While these agreements are binational, they are generally local in scope. In other words, the agreements treat specific border points and procedures (schedules, methods) by which deportations from the United States are to take place.[87] Some of these agreements contain specific provisions for minors and women. Furthermore, Mexico and the United States have signed memoranda of understanding on consular protection of Mexicans in the United States and of U.S. citizens in Mexico, as well as mechanisms of consultation, communication, sharing of information, and joint cooperation to fight border violence and organized crime.[88] In 1981, Mexico and the United States formed the Binational Commission, a ministerial-level forum.  This Commission was created to address jointly a series of issues of interest to both countries, including migration and consular relations, and border cooperation in the areas of development, security, and environment.[89]


191.        Mexico has also signed bilateral agreements with Guatemala on temporary workers. In February 2002, both countries established an Ad Hoc Group on Guatemalan temporary agricultural workers in Mexico.[90] This agreement seeks to create mechanisms of coordination to regularize the flow of agricultural workers. Mexico also participates in multilateral initiatives for coordination on migration such as the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), for which it is currently Secretary Pro Tempore, and the Hemispheric Conference on Migration.


          Negotiating a bilateral agreement on migration


192.        As indicated above, the relationship between Mexico and the United States has significantly influenced Mexico’s economic, political, and social development. After the signing of the NAFTA, the economies of both countries have become profoundly integrated, so much so that Mexico has become the second leading trade partner of the United States.[91] Many industries and services in the United States also depend on Mexican labor.  Socially and culturally, the steady flow of Mexican nationals and the existence of large communities of U.S. citizens of Mexican origin in the United States have accentuated the complementation of and interconnections between the two countries.  The gradual democratization of Mexico, witnessed in the election of President Vicente Fox in 2000, created expectations about a possible migration agreement between the United States and Mexico.  According to the Foreign Ministry authorities with whom the Rapporteurship met, in September 2001, the two countries were engaged in advanced conversations to attain a historical migration agreement that would make it possible to regularize the status of millions of skilled Mexican workers in the United States irregularly, as well as the creation of a temporary program for agricultural workers of Mexican origin.  This version has been corroborated by a series of press sources in Mexico and the United States. The possibility of reaching such an agreement was considered enhanced by the personal friendship between Presidents Vicente Fox and George W. Bush, as well as by the support given to this initiative by important sectors and public opinion in both countries.  In the United States, for example, important leaders including several members of Congress, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank Alan Greenspan, and members of the Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO, the largest trade union federation in the United States, supported the initiative.[92]


193.        The terrorist attacks of September 2001, however, radically changed the U.S. political agenda. The change in the foreign policy priorities of the Bush administration and the predominant place accorded national security and the war on terrorism had a major impact on the negotiations under way at the time between Mexico and the United States.  The subordination of migration policy to security considerations by the United States at that moment changed the conditions for the negotiations, frustrating the initiative to nail down a migration agreement. Despite the assertions by some Bush administration officials and members of the U.S. Congress, representatives of the Mexican government with whom the rapporteurship delegation met, including Gustavo Mohar, the Negotiator for International Migration Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, coincided in noting that after the terrorist attacks, the political conditions no longer existed for Mexico and the United States to reach an agreement on migration issues.  Recently, an initiative in the U.S. Congress to link a possible migration agreement with Mexico to the opening up of the Compañía de Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) to foreign capital was not well-received by Fox administration, the opposition parties, or indeed overwhelming sentiment in Mexican public opinion.  The slowdown of the U.S. economy and the problems that this economic pattern have caused for industries such as tourism, services, and construction, among others, have forced a large number of Mexicans to return to their country. It is estimated that some 350,000 Mexican nationals have returned since September 11, 2001.[93]


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[13] On August 15, 2002, Felipe De Jesús Preciado was replaced as Commissioner of the Instituto Nacional de Migraciones by Magdalena Carral Cuevas.

[14] The members of the Foro Migraciones de México include: Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova, A.C., Tapachula, Chiapas; Albergue Belén Casa del Migrante, Tapachula, Chiapas; Hugo Manuel Ángeles Cruz, Tapachula, Chiapas; Martha Rojas, Tapachula, Chiapas; Miguel Pickard, San Cristóbal, Chiapas; Comité de Derechos Humanos de Tabasco, A.C., Villahermosa, Tabasco; José Moreno Mena, Mexicali, Baja California; Albergue del Desierto, Mexicali, Baja California; Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador Migrante, Mexicali, Baja California; Centro de Derechos Humanos y Educación Cívica, Mexicali, Baja California; Federico García Estrada, Mexicali, Baja California; Casa Madre Assunta, Tijuana, Baja California; Juan José Delgado, Tijuana, Baja California; Centro de Estudios Fronterizos y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Reynosa, Tamaulipas; Equipo Diocesano de Pastoral Migratoria San José, Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas; Marcela Ibarra, Puebla, Puebla; Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras de Productores del Campo, A.C. (ANEC), México, D.F.; Bufete de Asesoría Jurídica Laboral, Mexico City; Cáritas Arquidiócesis de México, I.A.P. Programa de Atención al Migrante, Mexico City; Central Campesina Cardenista, Mexico City; Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro_Juárez, Mexico City; Centro Mexicano por la Filantropía, Mexico City; Comisión Episcopal para la Movilidad Humana, Mexico City; Comisión Mexicana de la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Mexico City; Familia Franciscana Internacional México, Mexico City; Movimiento Ciudadano por la Democracia (MCD), Mexico City; Sin Fronteras, I.A.P., Mexico City; Rodolfo Casillas, Mexico City; Manuel Ángel Castillo, Mexico City; Enrique Maza, Mexico City; Vladimiro Valdés, Mexico City; Red Coalli Nemilistli de Puebla and Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Valle de Tehuacán, Tehuacán, Puebla; Centro de Derechos Humanos Ñu'u Ji Kandii A.C. "Tierra del Sol", Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca; Patricia Zamudio, Xalapa, Veracruz; Archdiocese of Xalapa, Xalapa, Veracruz; Pastoral de Movilidad Humana de Veracruz, Veracruz, Veracruz; Arturo Lona Reyes, Juchitán, Oaxaca; Red Oaxaqueña de Derechos Humanos _ Centro de Derechos Humanos Tepeyac del Istmo de Tehuantepec, A.C., Tehuantepec, Oaxaca; Rodolfo García Zamora, Zacatecas, Zacatecas; Centro Regional de Mujeres del Bajío (CEREMUBA), Celaya, Guanajuato; Uahri, Morelia, Michoacán; Gustavo López Castro, Zamora, Michoacán; Miguel Rionda, Guanajuato, Guanajuato; and Ofelia Woo, Guadalajara, Jalisco.

[15] The members of the Mexican Free Trade Action Network include: Centro de Investigaciones Económicas y Políticas de Acción Comunitaria, A.C.; Centro de Investigación Laboral y Asesoría Sindical; Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos; Comité de Derechos Humanos de Tabasco; Desarrollo, Ambiente y Sociedad; DECA Equipo Pueblo; Factor X (Tijuana); Foro de Apoyo Mutuo; Frente Auténtico del Trabajo; Frente por el Derecho a la Alimentación; Fronteras Comunes; Grupo de Estudios Ambientales; Movimiento Ciudadano por la Democracia; Secretariado Social Mexicano; Seminario Permanente de Estudios Chicanos y de Fronteras; and Servicios Informativos Procesados.

[16] For more information on the methodology for on-site visits that the Rapporteurship uses for its field work, see: Orentlicher, Diane F. 1990.  “Bearing Witness: The Art and Science of Human Rights Fact-Finding.” Harvard Human Rights Journal, Vol. 3, pp. 83-135; and Lillich, Richard B. and Hurst Hannum.  1995.  International Human Rights: Problems of Law, Policy and Practice (3rd edition), New York: Little, Brown and Company (chapter 6, “The Problem of Fact-Finding and Evidence”).

[17] Historically Mexico has an open door for refugees.  In the 1930s, Mexico received a large number of European refugees, especially sympathizers of the Spanish Republic and detractors of the Stalin regime in the Soviet Union (such as Leon Trotsky), and of the National Socialist regime in Germany. In the 1970s, Mexico opened its doors to the victims of the dictatorships in the Southern Cone, and in the 1980s it received thousands of Central American refugees, victims of the repression and violence of the civil wars in some Central American countries.  Despite this tradition, Mexico only recently ratified the Convention (1951) and Protocol (1967) relating to the Status of Refugees on June 7, 2000. See Weiss Fagen, Patricia and Sergio Aguayo. 1988. Central Americans in Mexico and the United States: Unilateral, Bilateral and Regional Perspectives.  Washington, DC: Hemispheric Migration Project, Center for Immigration Policy and Refugee Assistance, Georgetown University; Aguayo, Sergio. 1985.  El Éxodo Centro Americano. Mexico City: Ministry of Public Education. Cincuenta Años de Exilio Español en México.  1991.  Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala; and Alba, Francisco. 2002.  Mexico: A Crucial Crossroads.  Migration Information Sources. The Migration Policy Institute.  <http://www.mjigrationinformation.org/Profiles/display.cfm?ID=36>.

[18] After rebelling against the Mexican government and declaring their independence, settlers from the United States residing in Texas decided to join the United States in 1845. On July 4, 1845, the U.S. authorities decided to annex Texas. Three years later, after the end of the Mexican-Ameircan War (1846-1848), the United States annexed territory encompassing the present-day states of California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.  Massey, Douglas, Jorge Durand, and Nolan Malone. 2002.  Beyond Smoke and Mirrors. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, pp. 24-27.

[19] Bustamante, Jorge A. 1997. Cruzar la Línea: La Migración de México a los EUA. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, pp. 130_6;  Alba, Francisco. 2002. Op. cit.

[20] U.S. Census. 2001. See section entitled Hispanic Population. <http://www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/ c2kbr01_3.pdf>; Alba. 2002. Op. cit.

[21] As of March 2003, the INS came under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A large part of its functions were transferred to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS).

[22] U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. 2000. Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, cited in Massey, Durand, and Malone. 2002. Op. cit. p. 158.

[23] Serrano, Pablo. 2002. Flujos Migratorios y remesas en América Latina y el Caribe: la Experiencia de la CEPAL, Seminario  Internacional sobre la Transferencia y Uso de las Remesas: Proyectos Productivos y de Ahorro. Sin Fronteras, ECLAC (Subregional office, Mexico City) and Universidad  Autónoma de Zacatecas, p. 38.

[24] Massey, Durand, and Marlene. 2002. Id.p. 27. See also Durand, Jorge. 1998. “Nuevas Regiones Migratorias?” In: Población, Desarrollo y Globalización, edited by René Zenteno. (Volume II). Tijuana: Colegio de la Frontera Norte and Sociedad Mexicana de Demografía, pp. 104_7 .

[25] Durand explains that in general, the population of the border states of northern Mexico is less inclined to emigrate to the United States.  In this regard, as a matter of tradition, the people of the border states cross the border frequently (what Durand calls “cross-border migration”), and so are less compelled to migrate permanently. Durand, 1998. Op. cit., pp. 104-7.

[26] Massey, Durand, and Malone. 2002. Id.pp. 44_47, 127; and García Zamora, Rodolfo. 2002. "Informe Sobre las Zonas de Origen", in: Migración: México Entre sus dos Fronteras 2000_1. Mexico City: Foro Migraciones, p. 37.

[27] Id.

[28] Leiden, Robert. 2002. Enchilada Lite: A Post 9/11 Mexican Migration Agreement. Center for Immigration Studies, <http://www.cis.org/articles/2002/leiken.html>; Delgado Wise, Raúl and Héctor Rodríguez Ramírez. 2002. "El Migrante Colectivo frente a los desafíos del desarrollo local y regional en México," in: Seminario  Internacional sobre la Transferencia y Uso de las Remesas: Proyectos Productivos y de Ahorro. Sin Fronteras, ECLAC (Subregional Office Mexico City) and Universidad  Autónoma de Zacatecas, p. 122.

[29] Speech by the Ambassador of Mexico in Canada, María Teresa García-Segovia de Madero, Canadian Club of Ottawa, February 18, 2003; Rural Migration News. <http://migration.ucdavis.edu/rmn/apr_2003_14_rmn.html>

[30] Valenzuela, Gabriel. 1998. "Políticas de Desarrollo y Comportamiento Demográfico en la Frontera Norte de México," in: Población, Desarrollo y Globalización, edited by René Zenteno. (Volume II). Tijuana: Colegio de la Frontera Norte and Sociedad Mexicana de Demografía, p. 489.

[31] The Human Development Index measures: (a) per capita gross domestic product (adjusted for purchasing power parity); (b) infant mortality; (c) life expectancy; and (d) combined school enrollment rate (primary, secondary, and higher). See UNDP. Human Development Index. <http://www.undp.org/hdr2002/espanol/indicadores.pdf>.

[32] UNDP. 2002. Human Development Index. <http://www.undp.org/hdr2002/espanol/indicadores.pdf>, p. 150.

[33] Some 85% of Mexican exports go to the United States.  World Bank. 2003. Country Profile, Mexico. <http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/external/lac/lac.nsf>; ECLAC. 2003. Balance Preliminar de las Economías de América Latina y El Caribe 2002 <http://www.eclac.cl/publicaciones/DesarrolloEconomico/6/LCG2196PE/lcg2196.pdf>.

[34] The total sum of exports rose from US$42.688 billion in 1991 to $158.443 billion in 2001. Latin Business Chronicle.  <http://www.latinbusinesschronicle.com/statistics/gdp/mexico.htm>.

[35] ECLAC. 2002. La Inversión Extranjera en América Latina y El Caribe, 2002. p. 28; <http://www.eclac.cl/publicaciones/DesarrolloProductivo/8/LCG2198P/LCG2198capI.pdf>.  It should be noted that the high figure for investment is largely due to the privatization of Banamex, which was bought by the U.S. group Citicorp for approximately US$12 billion.  BBC News. 2001. "Giant Mexico Bank Takeover." Saturday, 4 August. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1472912.stm>.

[36] Mexico’s main industries include oil, petrochemicals, steel, iron, ore, tobacco, food and beverages, and tourism; the main crops include cotton, coffee, rice, beans, corn, and soybean.  World Almanac & Book of Facts. 2003.  “Nations of the World: Mexico,” p. 818.

[37] The economic effects of the NAFTA for Mexico are much debated, and many sectors in Mexico and abroad argue that it has had a negative economic impact on Mexico, especially for some sectors such as agriculture.  Representatives of the Mexican Free Trade Action Network with whom the Special Rapporteur met put forth different arguments on this subject.  A solid and balanced analysis of the negative effects of the NAFTA for Mexico can be found in Poitras, Guy. 2002.  Inventing North America: Canada, Mexico and the United States. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner (chapter 7).

[38] World Bank. 2003. Op. cit.  ECLAC. 2003. Op. cit.

[39] Id.

[40] Prior to the Mexican Revolution, 92% of the rural heads of family had no land, and worked as peons for various latifundia. After the revolution, in 1922, the Ejido law was adopted. Under this law, latifundia were expropriated for distribution to the landless campesinos.  As a result of this plan, from 1922 to 1991, 50% of the lands in Mexico were distributed to groups of campesinos who formed ejidos. . De Walt, Billie, Martha W. Rees and Arthur D. Murphy. 1994  The End of Agrarian Reform in Mexico: Past Lessons, Future Prospects. Transformation of Rural Mexico Series, no. 3. La Jolla: Center for U.S._Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego.

[41] See Salas, Carlos. 2002. “Mexico's Haves and Have_Nots: NAFTA Sharpens the Divide.” NACLA Report on the Americas 35 (4): p. 35; Pastor, Manuel and Carol Wise. 1997. State Policy, Distribution and Neoliberal Reform in Mexico. Journal of Latin American Studies 29: 329_362.

[42] UNDP. 2002. Op. cit. p.195. <http://www.undp.org/hdr2002/complete.pdf>.

[43] ECLAC. 2002. Situación y Perspectivas. Estudio Económico de América Latina y el Caribe 2001_2002. <http://www.eclac.cl/publicaciones/DesarrolloEconomico/4/LCG2184P/lcg2179_mex.pdf>.

[44] Id.

[45] World Bank. 2003. Op. cit.

[46] For the sake of comparison, Uruguay has 370, Chile 110, the United States 279.  UNDP. 2002. Op. cit.
pp. 166-167.

[47] UNDP. 2002. Op. cit. pp. 166-167.

[48] World Bank. 2003. Op. cit.

[49] Mexico’s demographic composition is as follows: 60% mestizos, 30% indigenous, and 9% Caucasian.  World Almanac & Book of Facts. 2003. “Nations of the World: Mexico,” p. 818.

[50] Compared to Chile or Brazil, which collect more than 15% of GDP in taxes. World Link. 2000. Fox’s Great Crusade. Nov./Dec. 2000, p. 58.

[51] Mexico-U.S. Binational Study on Migration. 1997.  <http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/uscir/binational.html>.

[52] Numerous studies indicate that in the last decade, in nominal terms, a Mexican worker can earn nine to ten times more for the same work in the United States than in Mexico, in both semi-specialized and unskilled jobs. Stalker, Peter. Workers Without Frontiers. The Impact of Globalization on International Migration. Boulder, CO.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000, p. 21. Alba. Op. cit.

[53] Massey, Durand, and Malone. 2002. Op. cit., p. 50.

[54] Weiner, Myron. The Global Migration Crisis: Challenges to States and Human Rights. New York: Harpers Collins College Publishers, 1995, pp. 10_12. ECLAC. 2002. "International Migration and Globalization," in Globalization and Development LC/G.2157 (SES.29/3), pp. 233_4. <http://www.eclac.cl/publicaciones/SecretariaEjecutiva/3/LCG2157SES293I/Globalization_Chap8.pdf>.

[55] Mexico-U.S. Binational Study on Migration.  1997. <http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/uscir/binational.html>.  More specifically, a recent study on the causes of migration of Mexicans to the United States highlights three factors. First, the formation of social capital (the value contained in the relationships one establishes with others); the accumulation of human capital (personal characteristics that may become elements valued in the labor market like education or a particular skill), and the consolidation of the market between Mexico and the United States. In this respect, they state: “After more than 50 years of the continuing development of social capital and the specific migratory capital accumulated in Mexico in a context of change and insecurity for the communities, they channel their needs for work, capital, and security from risks to the United States.  This represents a line of last defense to deal with the vicissitudes experienced by Mexico and Mexican families.”  Massey, Douglas, Kristine E. Espinoza, and Jorge Durand. 1998. “Dinámica Migratoria Entre México y EUA.” In: Población, Desarrollo y Globalización, edited by René Zenteno. (Volume II). Tijuana: Colegio de la Frontera Norte and Sociedad Mexicana de Demografía, pp. 63_67.

[56] Massey, Durand, and Malone. 2002. Op. cit., pp. 18-21.

[57] In 1954, the Immigration and Naturalization Service implemented Operation Wetback. That year, more than one million Mexicans were detained and deported from the United States.

[58] Massey, Durand, and Malone. 2002. Op. cit., pp. 101-105.

[59] Epenshade, Thomas and J. and Katherine Hempstead. 1996. "Contemporary American Attitudes Toward U.S. Immigration," International Migration Review 30 : 535_70. Massey, Durand and Malone. 2002. Op cit.

[60] The U.S. Congress approved the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, known as the IIRAIRA, among other laws.

[61] Cornelius, Wayne. 1994. Controlling Immigration. A Global Perspective. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, p. 35.

[62]  Massey,  Durand and Malone. 2002. Op cit., pp. 96_130; US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. 2003. <http://www.immigration.gov/graphics/publicaffairs/presinfo2.htm#BorderPatrol>

[63] The INS has called the strategy “prevention through deterrence.” The idea is to hinder the illegal crossing of persons for the purpose of having a deterrent effect.

[64] Kyle David and John Dale. 2001. “Smuggling the State Back: Agents of Human Smuggling Reconsidered.” In: Global Human Smuggling: Comparative Perspectives, edited by David Kyle and Rey Kislowski. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 7_8; Massey, Durand and Malone. 2002. Op. cit.,  p. 97.

[65] Massey, Durand and Malone. 2002. Op. cit., p.115.

[66] Most dangerous is crossing from Sonora into Arizona.

[67] Emmanuelle Le Texier: Migrantes y Derechos Humanos. Diario Reforma, January 15, 2002. In the year 2000, a record number of 491 persons died trying to cross the border.

[68] Villaseñor Roca, Blanca and José Morena Mena. 2002. Breve Visión sobre las Medidas de Control Migratorio en la Frontera Norte de México, in: Migración: México Entre sus dos Fronteras, coordinator Víctor del Real, p. 19. Mexico City: Foro Migraciones.

[69] See United Nations Commission on Human Rights. 2002. Grupos e Individuos Específicos: Trabajadores Migrantes. Misión a la Frontera Norte Entre EUA y México E/CN.4/2003/95/Add.3 Paragraph 42; Anti_Defamation League. 2003. Border Disputes: Armed Vigilantes in Arizona. <http://www.adl.org/extremism/arizona/arizonaborder.pdf>.

[70] See Second Progress Report of the Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers, Section V. <http://www.cidh.org/ annualrep/2001sp/cap.6b.htm#_ftn89>. This is a widely documented practice, increasing border control creates greater incentives to use the services of smugglers, traffickers, or guides. See Ghosh, Bimal, 1998. “Introduction.” In: Managing Migration, edited by Bimal Ghosh. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 18.

[71] Massey, Durand and Malone. 2002. Op. cit. pp. 114-133.

[72] Sin Fronteras. 2003. <http://www.sinfronteras.org.mx/mi.htm>.  According to Alba, the total number of foreigners residing in Mexico is smaller, numbering only 500,000. Alba. 2002. Op. cit.

[73] Sin Fronteras. 2003. Op. cit.

[74] Castillo, Manuel Angel. 2000. "The Regularization of Temporary Agriculture Migrant Workers in Mexico." In: Combating the Illegal Employment of Foreign Workers, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, pp. 71_8.  <http://www1.oecd.org/publications/e_book/8100141E.PDF>.

[75] Herrera, Sandra. 2002. "Trabajadores agrícolas migratorios en la frontera Guatemala_México: Elementos para comprender su movilidad."  Entre Redes 10 (July): pp. 13_14.

[76] Palma Irene. 2000. La Migración de Trabajadores en la Frontera Guatemala_México. Workshop of International Experts on Best Practices in relation to Migrant Workers, Santiago, Chile, June 19_20, p. 4.  Report by the Human Rights Office, Casa del Migrante, Tecún Umán. 2002. Contexto del Trabajador Agrícola Guatemalteco, p. 2.

[77] UNHCR. 2002. Global Report. Geneva: UNHCR, p. 442. <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi_bin/texis/vtx/ home/opendoc.pdf?id=3edf4fe16&tbl=MEDIA>.  According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR), the figure for refugees and asylum-seekers in Mexico is much less, coming to 6,200 persons in 2001.  USCR 2002. World Refugee Survey. Information by Country: Mexico. Washington, D.C. <http://www.refugees.org/world/countryrpt/ amer_carib/2002/mexico.cfm>.

[78] Grayson, George. 2002. "Mexico's Forgotten Southern Border: Does Mexico practice at Home what it Preaches Abroad?" Center for Immigration Studies (July) <http://www.cis.org/articles/2002/back702.html>.

[79] IACHR. 2003. Fourth Progress Report of the Rapporteurship on Migrant Workers and Their Families, <http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/2002sp/cap.6> (para. 334). Grayson. 2002. Op. cit. Casillas. 2002. Op. cit., pp. 28_36.

[80] See Kuhner. 2002. Op. cit.; and Casillas. 2002. Id.

[81] INM. 2003. <http://www.inami.gob.mx/paginas/420000.htm#estamos>.

[82] See BBC Mundo. 2001. El Desafío de la Frontera Sur <http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/spanish/specials/ newsid_1426000/1426334.stm>.

[83] This system provides means of identifying persons such as registration, fingerprinting, and keeping a national identification registry.

[84] INM. 2003. <http://www.inami.gob.mx/paginas/433000.htm>.

[85] Information provided by the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the OAS.

[86] Mexico, it should be noted, has made reservations and interpretive declarations with respect to some of these instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the Declaration recognizing the Contentious Jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. On the content and application of those reservations, see the section on migration policy and practice. Mexico also included interpretive declarations with respect to trade union rights when depositing its ratification of the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (see Section IX, Labor Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).

[87] Gómez, María Esparcia, Ana Isabel Soto, Irma Vásquez, Adriana Carmona, Gretchen Kuhner, Margarita  Juárez, Emilio Quesada and Fabienne Venet. 2002. “Marco Legal en Materia Migratoria en México,” in: Migración: México Entre sus dos Fronteras, coordinator Víctor del Real, pp. 51_2. Mexico City: Foro Migraciones.  These authors provide an exhaustive list of U.S.-Mexico agreements.

[88] Id.

[89] Other issues addressed in the Bilateral Commission include agriculture, commercial development, fisheries, tourism, education, cultural matters, energy, customs, health, labor, legal matters, drugs, science and technology, trade and investment, and transportation.

[90] This agreement replaced the Chiapas-Guatemala Bilateral Commission, an initiative created in 1992, but which was later discontinued.

[91] In 2000, bilateral trade came to US$26 billion.  As to the extent of economic and cultural complementation, see the Mexico-U.S. Binational Study on Migration. 1997. Op. cit.; World Bank. 2002. Op. cit.

[92] Wallers_Mayers, Deborah and Demetrious Papademetriou. 2002. The U.S.- Mexico Immigration Relationship: Operating in a New Context. Foreign Affairs en Español. (2) 1 (Spring). Waslin, Michele. 2001. "Immigration Policy in Flux." NACLA Report on the Americas 35 (3) (November/December), pp. 34_8; The Economist. 2003. "Half an Enchilada" January 25, p. 37; Lieken. 2002. Op. cit.

[93] Wallers-Mayers, Deborah and Demetrious Papdemetriou. 2002. Id.