Migration seen through a Diversity Lens

Discussing migration is without a doubt incredibly important, nonetheless we should never forget to also analyze the way in which we view migration.

When we look at people around us, we can see infinite diversity; however, when we think about migrants, the first thing that comes to our mind is the image of a “young man, mestizo, and heterosexual”. We must therefore put an end to the idea that migration is something homogeneous. We have to realize, that the diversity we see around us is a reflection of migration considering that the diversity of people around us is the same that makes up migration.

By understanding that migration flows are dynamic, changing, and diverse, we will be able to understand that the needs of people tangled up in this system are all different.

As an example; among the 147,370 repatriated migrants from Mexico in 2016 there were more than 34,000 children and adolescents, including 2,015 unaccompanied or children separated from their families aged between 0 and 11. This case about migrant children, helps us to understand how different the profiles of people needing specific care assistance are. Keeping this premise in mind, we must consider the need for differentiated care measures for every individual migrant profile. As a result, there is a need to analyze migration issues and develop laws or regulations which take the broad range of profiles and protection needs into account as well as, attention and assistance needs. 

One recommended tool can be found in the “IOM specialized course on migrant children” which addresses the many "lenses for analyzing diversity on migration". The following lenses allow us to “gain a better insight” on the needs and the differences of each migrant group.

Human rights lens: puts migrants at the core of our actions and priorities, acknowledging them as rights-holders.

Gender lens: highlights gender inequalities in our societies in order to design strategies geared towards/aimed at reducing them.

Diversity lens: helps us understand that any person’s life experience has uniquely shaped their sexual orientation and identity. Despite of these individuals representing a minority (not being binary or heterosexual) their realities of inequality and discrimination must be taken into consideration.

Interculturalist lens: enables us to realize that other cultures have a different understanding of the world. They also allow us to address those cultures in a respectful and empathetic manner.

The best interests of the child lens: as all human beings, children and adolescents are rights-holders. Depending on their maturity/age, they have different possibilities to exercise them – for instance, with assistance - but all decisions made for them must aim at their best interests.

Participation lens: making decisions based on a child’s best interest doesn’t mean putting the child’s opinions aside. It is much rather shows the need of them being informed and involved in the decision making process, so that they can understand the impact that different options can have on their future.

Progressive autonomy lens: we now recognize that migrants are not a homogenous group – neither are children and adolescents. Their background and maturity is what makes them so unique, which is why care assistance must be based on their particular situation.

The last three lenses are, in fact, fundamental principles of the Child Rights-based approach. However, I wanted to portray them as a part of this analogy so that but those of us, working with migrant children, can integrate all of the above described lenses into our work  to improve our capacities to identify the needs of this population.


About the author:

Alex Rigol Ploettner trabaja actualmente para la OIM como Promotor Local en Tenosique, Tabasco, México. Anteriormente, se desempeñó en materia de derechos humanos en la  Ciudad de México desde la sociedad civil, así como en materia económica en Guatemala con el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo -BID- . Es politólogo por la Universidad de Barcelona (UB) con una maestría en Relaciones Internacionales del Instituto de Barcelona de Estudios Internacionales (IBEI). 

How can Central American migrants become regularized in Mexico?

How can Central American migrants become regularized in Mexico?
Categoria: Immigration and Border Management
Autor: Guest Contributor

Thousands of migrants, asylum seekers and Central American refugees go north in search of better opportunities. Most of these people leave from Northern Central American countries (PNCA - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).

Some resort to irregular migration, exposing themselves to travel dangers and the restrictions that this implies if they manage to reach their country of destination. However, an IOM study in which more than 2,800 interviews were conducted showed that in NTCA 97% of migrants in transit make a great effort to obtain documents to regulate their stay in Mexico. In addition, between 59% and 70% of people would be willing to be involved in local education, employment or entrepreneurship opportunities, as an alternative to irregular migration.

Migrants who leave the NTCA when they reach the southern border of Mexico have 3 options to request their regular stay in this country:

1. Regional Visitor: allows a person to remain in Mexico for a period not exceeding 7 days in the States of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Tabasco. The card is valid for 5 years, has no cost and does not allow paid activities.

2. Visitor Border Worker: for nationals of Belize and Guatemala, allows entry to the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Tabasco. It is valid for one year and includes the right to perform remunerated activities. However, this option requires having a job offer in advance.

3. Visitor for Humanitarian Reasons: valid for one year with the possibility of renewal and is granted in the following situations:

  • Be a victim or witness a crime committed in Mexico.
  • Be an unaccompanied migrant child
  • Be an applicant for political asylum, recognition of refugee status or complementary protection of the Mexican State, as long as their migration status is unresolved.

The condition of a visitor's stay may also be authorized for humanitarian reasons when there is a humanitarian cause that necessitates its admission or regularization in the country. The requesting person has permission to perform paid activities.

For migrants who want to reach the northern border of Mexico, they can only continue their journey as irregular migrants. For them, the way to regularize their immigration status is through a Visitor Visa for Humanitarian Reasons, request a waiting number to be interviewed in the US and qualify for the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). They can also cross the border irregularly and present themselves to migration authorities in the United States, and be returned to Mexico, also under the MPP category.

Those who return to Mexico through the MPP can wait for their appointment and request asylum in the United States or in Mexico, or return to their countries of origin.

Mexico has the potential to offer job opportunities to migrants in programs like Sembrando Vida or projects such as the creation of the free zone in the border strip, the Mayan Train or the construction of the Dos Bocas refinery in the state of Tabasco. For this, the visa options and conditions of regular stay for NTCA migrants must be strengthened and refined.

It is also essential that governments and organizations continue to strive to address the structural causes that force people to migrate, offer alternatives and continue to seek and support mechanisms that promote an orderly and safe migration.


Resources for migrants:

*IOM has resources to help people find out about regular migration options. The migrantinfo.iom.int website provides information on regular migration channels and opportunities for local learning, work and entrepreneurship development. On the other hand, the MigApp mobile application provides information on protection, migration procedures and services.