The issue is to recognize the new Mexican migrations that began in this six-year term, in the middle of 2020, and that today constitute the most important human flow in the region and, most likely, in the world.

From the perspective of the migration processes taking place in Mexico, the three candidates for the presidency of the country have shown the deep misunderstanding that these processes have among the political elite, despite being the immense elephant in the room.

In principle, the first great misunderstanding—and inattention—corresponds to the new migration of Mexican men and women to the United States. Despite being an enormous human mobility, of thousands and thousands of people, it is ignored again and again. It should be clarified that this is not about alluding nostalgically to the “heroes and heroines” who send remittances from abroad, to whom we do not give due recognition either. Today the issue is to recognize the new Mexican migrations that began in this six-year term, exactly in the middle of 2020, and that today constitute the most important human flow in the region and, most likely, in the world.

This new torrent of Mexicans is the one omitted, time and time again. However, it is the open expression of deep social problems that the regions of Mexico have, practically throughout the entire territory. The new migration is a thermometer of ongoing social deteriorations. Not only because a part of the new flows are associated with the costs of the covid-19 pandemic, having deteriorated income or caused the loss of jobs; It is not only due to the need to meet the expenses that the very serious health crisis meant for families and also its parallel repercussions.

This part of the new Mexican migration—let’s call it derived from economic factors, also linked to labor demand from the United States—represents approximately 60% of the current migratory flow. The complementary part is the socially critical one. This is a new and terrible flow: that of families fleeing their regions due to insecurity, violence and the absence of the rule of law.

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Never in the migratory history of Mexico have we had mobility of these dimensions and social characteristics, displaced and forced to seek asylum in the United States: they are our refugees, by the thousands and thousands. They are the most serious consequence and violation of all rights, caused daily by organized crime that predominates in many regions of the country.

Only between February 2024 and February 2024, the United States immigration authority registered 800 thousand “encounters” with people of Mexican nationality arriving at its southern border. Of this total, nearly 300 thousand arrived in family group. When families make up migratory mobility, we are faced with a different process from that which explains the mobility of single adults, as occurred predominantly during the old stage of Mexican migration.

The presidential candidates. In the face of migration, limited understanding. Photo: Special

Despite this, when the candidates for the Presidency refer to Mexican migration, they invariably refer to previous times, referring to those who live in the United States today. This is very good… but the new flows and their determinants cannot and should not be ignored—especially those derived from forced displacement due to violence—because with their omission they distance themselves from what is really happening in the country and ignore one of the most serious social problems. raw Our recent problems should not be overlooked, nor the thousands of daily tragedies behind them. It would be unacceptable for those who aspire to govern Mexico.

Continuing to think that the immigration and refuge problem that Mexico has is a matter of foreigners is equivalent to observing the minor part of the problem. The largest part, literally, is Mexican: there is no other moving population of even equivalent size. The central node of the migration problem is not Venezuelans, nor Central Americans, nor Colombians, Ecuadorians or any other nationality.

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The main question is what happens in Mexico. If this perspective is omitted from the main political debate, as is happening in the current campaigns for the Presidency of the Republic, any national project will be deficient and based on a diagnosis that does not correspond to reality.

If for the candidates their understanding of the immigration problem is limited to Mexicans in the United States and foreigners in transit through Mexico, their perspective corresponds to the mirror of four or more years ago. The current scenario is much more complex and has as its protagonist migration and Mexican refugees who demand, at least, as a generous minimum, the recognition that they exist.

Drug cartels, a reason to migrate. Photo: Special

Migration and especially refuge must be understood as an observatory and thermometer of social deteriorations, both deeper and the human scale in motion. Obviously this is our case, on an accelerated path since mid-2020, after more than a decade of relative stability and minimal migratory mobility. It is now necessary to rectify the course and avoid further injustices. In the immediate term, it is essential that the political class truly recognize the nation’s problems and act to solve them. These are not times to continue inventing or ignoring realities.

*PUED / UNAM professor / former INM commissioner

This Opinion text is published in edition 0011 of the magazine Proceso, corresponding to May 2024, whose digital copy can be purchased at this link.

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