“No walls here”. This phrase rings loudly across Mexico as a bold reminder that the country is revolutionizing the way refugees are received, creating synergies among institutions, civil society, businesses, governments and local leaders to generate opportunity for refugees across the country.
For the 8,788 asylum seekers who arrived in Mexico last year, life has been fraught with challenges. 92% of asylum seekers in Mexico hail from the “Northern Triangle”–Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The Northern Triangle has one of the highest murder rates in the world due in part to the prevalence of gang violence, extortionists and drug traffickers. A 2015 report by UNHCR found that women in the Northern Triangle, in particular, experience an alarming amount of violence and abuse. Nearly two-thirds of the women in this study reported fleeing their homes because of direct, targeted threats to their safety. In addition, youth, who make up more than 60% of our client base, are particularly vulnerable to gang intimidation and recruitment.
Many of those entering Mexico from its Southern border are refugees, yet upon crossing the border, they are often detained and deported back to their countries. This is a violation of their human rights. Without a national framework that respects the rights of people within the refugee status determination process, refugees who are detained upon arrival face a high risk of exploitation and discrimination. Even people who are recognized as refugees by the national government have difficulty rebuilding a life in their new country because they face many systemic barriers to accessing jobs and services.
To welcome refugees from the Northern Triangle and other regions, Asylum Access Mexico (AAMX) launched the Hospitality Route initiative in November of 2016 alongside our private sector, government, and civil society partners. The Hospitality Route creates human connections among refugees and all sectors of society that makes possible a future for all where refugees’ talent and potential enrich their host communities. The Hospitality Route’s online platform links individual clients to the professional, economic, social, and cultural opportunities our partners offer. These connections are transforming sporadic efforts to welcome refugees into a national network of organizations and institutions committed to including refugees in all aspects of society.
The Hospitality Route partners with businesses and civil society organizations to provide economic, social and cultural opportunities for refugees. We work closely with governments to promote change–such as creating city laws to end discrimination against refugees.
“What happens once a person is recognized as a refugee? They need to rebuild their lives. They need to find a place to live, a school for their children, a place to work and that’s what the Hospitality Route is about.” Karina Sarmiento, Director of Asylum Access Latin America
From helping individuals to working with communities to partnering with private companies and governments, we hope to build a movement that allows refugees a chance at a bright future in their new home.
Join us to tear down walls. Together, we can build bridges.
Written by Communications Coordinator Gayatri Ganapathy