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MPI and Colegio de México Experts Outline Solutions for the U.S. and Mexico to Resolve the Border Migration Crisis
Press Release
Thursday, July 18, 2019

MPI and Colegio de México Experts Outline Solutions for the U.S. and Mexico to Resolve the Border Migration Crisis

WASHINGTON AND MEXICO CITY — With apprehensions of Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans at the U.S.-Mexico border more than tripling over the past year and deportations from Mexico rising more than 50 percent from May to June, the U.S. and Mexican governments have been searching for ways to alleviate the migration crisis and stem irregular flows from Central America.

The policy solutions have been enforcement-minded and focused on the immediate term, and in the U.S. case on narrowing access to asylum. However, a new commentary from top analysts at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and El Colegio de México (COLMEX) makes clear that for lasting success, the two countries will have to consider long-term, cooperative efforts.

A June 7 U.S.-Mexico agreement to reduce flows has resulted in recent decreases in arrivals, by among other things increasing immigration enforcement in Mexico and expanding the Migration Protection Protocols program that has required nearly 20,000 asylum seekers to date to remain in Mexico pending adjudication of their U.S. asylum claim.

But these efforts are likely to be difficult to maintain, given chronic institutional weaknesses and poorly thought-out policy structures in both countries, MPI and COLMEX Presidents Andrew Selee and Silvia Giorguli argue in an analysis with colleagues Claudia Masferrer and Ariel Ruiz Soto.

“The flows are likely to creep up again if serious attention is not given to rethinking immigration policies and institutions in both countries,” they write. “While the bilateral June agreement may well have created a pause in new migration, the medium- and long-term solutions will require a different set of tools.”

Drawing from a forthcoming report by a COLMEX-MPI-convened study group, the commentary offers five key recommendations for the two countries to consider on a medium and longer-term basis that would dissuade illegal migration while ensuring fairness to those seeking protection:

  • Rethink asylum by reforming how asylum claims are adjudicated in both countries to ensure fair but faster processing
  • Strengthen immigration institutions by restructuring Mexico’s principal immigration agency and updating U.S. government infrastructure and resources at the border
  • Develop a regional, coordinated approach to take on smuggling networks
  • Create legal pathways for migration in both countries
  • Invest in development and public security in the Northern Triangle.

“Moving towards long-term solutions will require deploying a different set of tools — changing asylum procedures, investing in migration agencies, tackling smuggling networks, creating legal pathways and targeting development aid more smartly — instead of continuing the current short-term measures,” the authors write.

With Monday marking the end of the 45-day period set by the Trump administration to review the success of the June 7 agreement, which was negotiated under the threat of possible U.S. imposition of trade tariffs on Mexican goods, the commentary notes the importance of both countries working together collaboratively.

“The United States and Mexico must break the cycle of threats from the White House followed by short-term responses from the López Obrador administration, and instead begin to have a mature conversation between countries, recognizing that each has a stake in managing migration in a way that is intelligent, effective, humane and, above all, fair.”

Read the commentary here: www.migrationpolicy.org/news/strategic-solutions-united-states-and-mexico-manage-migration-crisis  

Para una versión en español: www.migrationpolicy.org/news/soluciones-estrategicas-para-afrontar-la-crisis-migratoria-en-estados-unidos-y-mexico

And for a recent MPI commentary examining the past track record of safe-third country agreements, see International Experience Suggests Safe Third-Country Agreement Would Not Solve the U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis.


The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. For more on MPI, please visit www.migrationpolicy.org.