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29 April 2020 – Mexico

On 26 April, Mexico’s Secretaría de Gobernación, through the National Institute of Migration (INM), ordered the immediate release of migrants detained in the country’s immigration detention centres (estaciones/estancias migratorias) to avoid the spread of Covid-19. The announcement came nearly a week after the UN human rights commissioner (OHCHR) urged Mexico to temporarily suspend deportations and to establish mechanisms to protect migrants and ensure they are provided with support. Yet, on 26 April, the INM stated that it had returned 3,653 Central American migrants by land to Guatemala and by air to Honduras and El Salvador.

The INM also announced that during the month of March 2020, there were 3,759 migrants detained in the country’s 65 detention centres and “shelters,” (albergues) which have a total capacity of 8,524 spaces. As of 26 April 2020, 106 migrants were still held in the country’s detention facilities. Amnesty International and the United Nations have expressed their concerns for the lack of sanitary measures in Mexico’s detention centres. The INM has nonetheless informed that no Covid-19 cases had been registered in their facilities and that necessary measures to avoid contagion and to detect possible Covid-19 symptoms were in place.

Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, stated on 20 March that Mexico would receive migrants returned from the United States. It is estimated that around 1,250 migrants will be returned daily, with the majority being Mexican citizens and around 125 central americans. On 20 April, the state of Tamaulipas reported that a total of 16 migrants deported from the United States had tested positive for Covid-19. The same scenario took place in Guatemala on 19 April when 50 migrants deported from the United States were diagnosed with Covid-19 upon their arrival.