The migrant caravan that is moving through Mexico into the United States was recently made an offer that has been widely rejected by the members of the caravan. Recently, the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, announced the “You are Home” initiative that would provide the migrants with jobs, healthcare, and asylum, an offer of which only about 120 have taken up.
Very few have taken the Mexican government’s offer, which the Mexican government claims is made up mostly of pregnant women and older individuals, and the rest of the caravan is still set to reach the US border. This action is quite telling as it makes the intentions of the caravan seem far more economic in nature than humanitarian or safety-driven.
Now it may seem initially that an offer of asylum in Mexico for migrants fleeing violence is counterintuitive seeing as Mexico was recently the second country with the highest rate of homicides in the world, but there’s a bit more to the story here.
Mexico is divided into 31 states, of which only seven are considered to be highly dangerous, while 19 of these states are, by international standards, considered to be relatively safe or moderately unsafe. The Mexican government has offered to allow each and every migrant in the caravan to stay in two of the safer 19 states, specifically Oaxaca and Chiapas, both of which would serve as perfect escapes from the violence of Central America.
If safety was the only concern to these migrants, this would be a perfect offer, saving them on the burden of walking thousands of more miles and applying for asylum they will most likely not get under the current administration. The one thing these Mexican states cannot provide is the same wages that the US can.
Currently, the average Mexican worker makes about $313 Australian Dollars a month while the average American worker makes over $4,000 American dollars. While $313 AUD a month seems like basically nothing, in Mexico it is considered a livable wage due to the cost of living in the local market. What these wages would not provide is a surplus of income to send in remittances to any family left back home.
This was a rare display of goodwill on behalf of Mexico to both the US (specifically the Trump administration) and to migrants themselves. For years migrant caravans have made their way through Mexico to the US with little coverage, and for years Mexico did little to stop them and much to undermine their human rights. The rejection on behalf of the migrants making up the caravan indicated a far stronger interest in economic resettlement than humanitarian resettlement.