Expectations Among Migrants Regarding the Election of a New Female President in Mexico: “May She Help Us”

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In Mexico City, where hundreds of migrants spend their days on the streets, the imminent election of a new female president leaves them feeling uncertain yet hopeful. Without knowing the names, proposals, or affiliations of the candidates, they simply hope that “the politician who comes will assist us migrants.”

Yuleima Saldeño, a Venezuelan migrant, prepares arepas on a street in Mexico City, where she waits to continue her journey toward the United States. Like many others, Saldeño left her home country in search of better opportunities. Just days before the presidential election on June 2, she cooks traditional Venezuelan food over an improvised stove on a sidewalk in the Juárez neighborhood.

“The politician who comes should help us migrants, not send us back or remove us from here. We need assistance to move forward,” Saldeño emphasizes.

The migrants residing in Mexico City are reluctant to risk continuing their journey northward due to fears of being returned to the southern part of the country. They endure the difficulties of staying put to avoid losing the progress they’ve made so far.

Mexico serves as a mandatory transit point for thousands of migrants attempting to reach the United States. In 2023, the National Institute of Migration (INM) recorded 782,176 encounters with irregular migrants in Mexico. As of March 2024, the Unit of Migration Policy, Registration, and Identity reported nearly 360,000 people in irregular situations within the country.

Lesby, a Honduran migrant who has been in Mexico City for four months, explains that most migrants camping in the capital are awaiting their appointment through the CBP One application to head to the U.S. border. CBP One allows individuals to reserve a space at a port of entry on the Mexico-U.S. border and apply for asylum with a U.S. immigration officer once there.

Despite the challenges, migrants hope for a smoother path. Facing the upcoming elections, Lesby acknowledges that some people have visited the migrant camp, claiming they have “limited time” to stay in the area because a new government might require them to move.

“There’s a lot of fear surrounding the upcoming elections because we’re afraid that whoever governs won’t be supportive of migrants,” confesses Lesby. “Many people either surrender to immigration to be sent back to their countries or become desperate and return on the train.”

For over a year, the area where Lesby resides has served as a refuge for migrants in Mexico City. While many find shelter in nearby hostels, they still spend their days on the streets.

An Ecuadorian migrant, who prefers not to reveal his name, fled his country with five children and has been living in a tent with his family in Mexico City for two months. He emphasizes that politicians “must understand” that due to poverty in Latin America, migration will “always” exist. Therefore, they should promote “fairer policies.”

What Do the Leading Female Candidates Say About Migration?

These elections will be the largest in Mexico’s history, with around 20,000 local, state, and national positions at stake. The presidential race is between two women: incumbent Claudia Sheinbaum and opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez.

Sheinbaum, favored in the polls, insists that addressing the root causes driving thousands to migrate is the solution to the migration crisis. Her proposal to invest in the countries of origin aligns with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s strategy of extending social programs to nations like El Salvador, with the participation of the U.S. and Canada.

Gálvez, on the other hand, pledges to negotiate with the U.S. government, combat human trafficking, and strengthen security on Mexico’s southern border. She also proposes benefits for migrants in Mexico, including “work visas or support for regularizing their migration status,” benefiting both migrants and the country.

Sunday’s election could maintain or alter the current government’s policies, which are directly related to the U.S. presidential elections in November. These elections will determine the binational strategy for addressing migration.

“We don’t want to be here. We’re here out of necessity… no one comes to stay in Mexico,” concludes Venezuelan migrant Yuleima Saldeño.

Médecins Sans Frontières estimates that irregular migrants in the region face an “acute” humanitarian crisis due to “multiple forms of violence,” including discrimination and violence.

“The governments in the region and the world continue to fail in providing security, protection, and the medical and humanitarian assistance to which these populations are entitled,” the organization stated in a recent report.

Source: Voz de America