Last Thursday, July 2, PBI organized a virtual seminar on the defense of the rights of migrants in the time of COVID-19 in collaboration with Madrid’s University Carlos III, and for which we had the presence of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants from the United Nations, Professor Felipe González Morales. This seminar was planned out of the need to reflect on the consequences that the pandemic situation is having for traditionally very vulnerable groups, such as migrants and refugees, and the current context that some experts have described as a situation of humanitarian crisis. The context of a pandemic, however, does not only have implications for health, but it also threatens to worsen a human mobility and human rights situation in Mexico that is already very serious, and requires urgent action and attention from the relevant authorities.

The border between the United States and Mexico is not only the world’s busiest, but also one of the most dangerous border regions1. The movement of migrants, principally coming from Central America, has increased considerably in recent years, and especially following the announcement that a border wall would be built2. While migrants in earlier periods were principally men migrating for economic reasons, in recent years the numbers of minors, women and families fleeing their countries of origin have increased considerably3.

The context in which migrant human rights defenders carry out their work is increasingly complicated. As Alberto Xicoténcatl expressed during his speech, at the same time that the resources available to the Migrant Houses are increasingly scarce, costs have skyrocketed as a result of the need to offer assistance with all health guarantees to migrants ; all in a context of abandonment or inactivity of the corresponding state and federal authorities.

For a little over two hours, people from different countries were able to listen to the arguments and reflections that the different speakers expressed about the risks, challenges and vulnerabilities that migrants, and the people who defend them, face, and what are the elements that countries like Mexico or the United States must face to give full account of international obligations in the field of human rights. The event concluded with a small debate in which the different participants were able to express their doubts and reflections, some of which were answered live by the speakers.

The reflections and concerns expressed during the virtual seminar were collected by the PBI team in order to continue our work of supporting and protecting human rights defenders in Mexico. That is why we appreciate the participation of all those people who were able to dedicate two hours of their time to learn about the reality of migrants in Mexico, and we commit ourselves to continue working and informing them about their development.

From the PBI Mexico Project we want to thank you for your time.

1U.S. State Department classification

3Analysis and monitoring of Casa del Migrante de Saltillo, organization accompanied by PBI since 2014