CARE Rapid Gender Analysis Latin America & the Caribbean – Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
Publication Date: 27/04/2020
Asylum seekers and migrants traveling through Central America and Mexico to the U.S. border face a range of risks, but women, girls, and other vulnerable groups—such as members of the LGBTQIA community—are confronted with additional threats to their health, safety, and well-being in their countries of origin, countries of transit, and in the U.S. As a result, asylum seekers and migrants who arrive at the U.S.–Mexico border often carry a heavy burden of trauma from experiences with violence. The lack of a system to appropriately support people on the move deepens pre-existing inequalities and exposes already vulnerable groups to additional, unnecessary, risks.
The U.S. Government’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, returns asylum seekers and migrants from U.S. custody to Mexican territory, compelling them to face months of risk and uncertainty as they wait to complete their asylum processes. The asylum process itself is challenging and unclear, liable to change without warning, and largely opaque to affected populations. The asylum seekers and migrants waiting in Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez city, along the Mexico–U.S. border, face ever-present threats of extortion, gender-based violence (GBV), and kidnappings, which compound their trauma and restrict their freedom of movement and access to critical resources and services. Trauma and fear were the norm of the population that CARE surveyed, not the
The female asylum-seekers and migrants in Ciudad Juárez that CARE spoke with reported feeling profoundly vulnerable and isolated. They consistently relayed a lack of trust in authorities and an increasing level of anti-migrant sentiment in the city. The lack of either confidential GBV screenings or formal complaint mechanisms left survivors with almost no one to turn to for support and services. Asylum seeking and migrant women, girls, and LGBTQIA individuals who feared for their safety reported remaining inside shelters as much as possible, leaving only when absolutely necessary. In Ciudad Juárez, some asylum seekers and migrants have found refuge in overwhelmed and
underfunded informal shelters. These shelters are largely run by local faith-based organizations, and could meet only a fraction of the need. Despite these efforts, the humanitarian response to the migration crisis is characterized by a haphazard and uncoordinated approach that is devoid of reference to the humanitarian standards that would be the norm in other emergencies. The shelters did not have appropriate intake procedures, such as vulnerability screenings. Few had sufficient water and sanitation facilities for the number of residents, and many shelters housed residents together in common spaces regardless of age or gender, amplifying the risk of harm to vulnerable persons. Asylum seekers and migrants in the shelters frequently lacked information about available health and legal services.