Local Refugee Integration Program in Mexico Explained

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When refugees have to flee their homes, they are often forced into dangerous journeys that can take weeks, months or even years. War, violence and persecution interrupt a person’s life, often requiring them to leave behind their careers, loved ones and education. 

One option that  provides displaced people the opportunity to rebuild is resettlement. However, the process for resettlement is long and refugees often have to wait years in refugee camps or in their countries of asylum until they are chosen for resettlement. Waiting in limbo makes it difficult for displaced people to continue with their lives, which is often all a person wants to do. 

In Mexico, the Local Integration Program is an initiative led by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, that works to address the needs of refugees who want to rebuild. Through livelihood support, educational opportunities and more, the Local Integration Program provides displaced people an opportunity to lay down roots and begin a new life in Mexico.

What is the Local Integration Program in Mexico? 

The Local Integration Program is an initiative led by UNHCR and supported by USA for UNHCR that gives refugees and asylum seekers in Mexico the resources and opportunities they need to start rebuilding. The goal of this program is to provide an option for refugees who are interested in integrating into communities in Mexico. The initiative supports refugees from their arrival all the way through to naturalization. 

Depending on the circumstances of those participating in the program, UNHCR either offers relocation within Mexico, or they offer integration support to refugees wherever they reside. Since the beginning of the program in 2019, more than 30,000 refugees and asylum seekers have participated in the relocation option and more than 80,000 have received integration support in their city of residence. Currently, the program is active in 21 cities across the country. 

Why are people fleeing to Mexico? 

Many of the refugees fleeing to Mexico are from countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America, primarily Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador and Guatemala. Many of the individuals and families seeking asylum in Mexico are fleeing gang violence or persecution that has made it unsafe to remain in their home country. Since the majority of individuals arriving in Mexico are from Spanish-speaking countries, the Local Integration Program offers an opportunity for them to remain in Spanish-speaking communities. 

Samuel (picture on the right) arrived in Tapachula, Mexico after fleeing El Salvador. Through the Local Integration Program, he now works in a factory in San Luis Potosi. The factory has participated in the program since 2022 and provides refugee employees with on-the-job training and transportation to and from the factory. 

“I’m grateful for the economic support for myself and my family,” Samuel says. “At first, things were a little strange when we arrived but now we feel safe and I’ve seen no danger at all here.”

How does the Local Integration Program support refugees? 

Inclusion is at the heart of the Local Integration Program. With the goal of helping refugees feel integrated into the new communities, UNHCR supports participants with everything from job training to education. Integration is highly individualized and localized based on the city and the individual’s circumstances, but some of the features of the Local Integration Program include:

  • Cash assistance to facilitate the integration progress
  • Access to housing 
  • Revalidation and certification of education (primary, secondary and university) 
  • Certification of job skills and specialized skills 
  • Job training and placement
  • Access to daycare options 
  • College education scholarships for students 
  • Support for naturalization 
  • Individualized support through family reunification 
  • Psychosocial support

The Local Integration Program supports a refugee’s entire journey and their entire family. For parents, the program helps them find appropriate job training and work while also ensuring that their children are cared for  and can continue their education. For those who are interested, the program also assists with naturalization, allowing displaced people to put down roots and integrate more thoroughly into the country. 

What is the impact of the Local Integration Program on refugees and their host communities?

The Local Integration Program is not only beneficial to refugees and asylum seekers but also offers significant benefits for host communities. In any country, refugees who integrate into host communities bring with them culture and experience that enriches the lives of those around them. 

In the Local Integration Program specifically, job placements through the program have shown to be highly successful for both the employees and the employers. Currently, more than 500 private sector companies partner with the initiative to hire refugees and asylum seekers. By the six-month mark, 87 percent of participants report being satisfied with their jobs, which results in low turnover for companies. Refugee employees have an average of .9 percent monthly turnover compared to the 6 percent average in the industrial sector. 

How can I support refugees in Mexico? 

The Local Integration Program is supported by compassionate USA for UNHCR donors like you. The initiative gives refugees the opportunity to plant roots, rebuild and continue forward with their lives. By becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor, you can directly support the work of The Local Integration Program and give more displaced families the opportunity to thrive. 

Source : UNHCR