Mexico’s Landmark Law Protects Refugees and Asylum Seekers
The U. S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) applauds Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón for recently signing a law designed to protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. The Law on Refugees and Complementary Protection was drafted by the Mexican Refugee Commission with support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“We welcome Mexico’s groundbreaking effort to advance the rights of those seeking freedom and opportunity and hope that other refugee-hosting countries in Latin America and around the world will follow suit,” said Lavinia Limón, President and CEO of USCRI, an organization dedicated to addressing the needs and rights of persons in forced or voluntary migration and promoting the full participation of refugees and immigrants in community life.
The landmark legislation fosters local integration of refugees in Mexico, granting access to health services, health insurance, education, recognition of academic credentials, and permission to work. It conforms to international protection practices; adheres to the definition of the term “refugee” according to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol; includes principles of family unity, the best interests of the child, no forced returns, non-discrimination, and no penalty for irregular entry; and recognizes gender-based persecution as grounds for asylum.
What’s more, Mexico’s new law extends protection to individuals who do not have refugee status but are at risk of torture, maltreatment, or whose lives are in danger. Most refugees and asylum seekers who come to Mexico are from Latin America and reside primarily in urban areas.
“We applaud Mexico for its dedication to ensure health, safety, and welfare of refugees and immigrants,” said Tricia Swartz, Director of USCRI’s National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children (NCRIC), which provides pro bono legal and social services for unaccompanied migrant children. NCRIC met with Mexico’s First Lady Margarita Zavala last year to discuss the need for protection and special services for unaccompanied migrant children detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.
USCRI is a Washington, D.C. area-based nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing fair and humane public policy, facilitating and providing direct professional services, and promoting the full participation of refugees and immigrants in community life. Founded in 2005 with a seed grant from Angelina Jolie, USCRI’s National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children provides migrating children comprehensive legal and social services, as well as advocacy.
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants • 2231 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA 22202
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