Human rights violations by migration authorities surged during AMLO’s administration

By May 4, 2023

Mexico City, Mexico — Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) reported a 200% increase in the number of complaints filed against the National Migration Institute (INM) for alleged human rights violations during the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. 

According to a report by the news media outlet Animal Político, since 2019, the number of complaints against Mexico’s migration authority has doubled. 

Pulling data from the National Human Rights Violation Alert System, the report details an increase from the 714 cases documented in 2019 to 2,141 by the end of 2022. 

By 2022, the state that presents the most violations is Chiapas, with 583 complaints, the southeastern state borders Guatemala and serves as a main entrance for migrants from Central and South America. 

Other states with the highest complaints are Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, with 249, and Tabasco, in the south of the country, with 227. 

These three locations have also reported the highest number of asylum seekers. 

According to information from the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid, only five states hold over 90% of refugee requests in the country. The top three are Chiapas with 24,686, Mexico City with 5,874, and Tabasco with 2,232. 

Amongst the most common complaints documented were “actions and omissions that violate the rights of migrants and their families” and “failure to comply with legality, honesty, loyalty, impartiality, and efficiency in performing functions, jobs, positions, or commissions.” 

While violent transgressions were far less common in what was reported by the CNDH, Mexico has fallen into controversy recently over how its migratory system has led to the death and harm of migrants crossing or trying to settle in the country, such as the fire at a migration detention facility in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, a border city in Mexico’s northwest, which led to the death of 40 migrants. 

The fire on March 27 uncovered the dire state of the Mexican migration system, with local journalists revealing that the detention center was used as an extortion hub for migration officers, with officers asking for money from migrants in exchange for their liberation, threatening them with deportation if they failed to pay. 

In addition, video footage of the day of the fire showed migration officers and security guards leaving migrants incarcerated while the fire spread. 

Head of INM Francisco Garduño next to the Mexican President.

In the aftermath, Mexican prosecutors pressed charges against public officials and security guards for their involvement in the tragedy. Amongst the accused is the head of the INM, Francisco Garduño. 

The migration officials are investigated for neglect. In the case of Garduño, a federal judge is pressing charges against the 74-year-old for the improper exercise of public service. 

According to the prosecution, the officials were aware of the terrible conditions the facility was operating under. 

Despite the charges facing him, Garduño is the only official who hasn’t been detained ahead of his trial, and he remains as the head of INM.