Asylum seekers in Mexico need support to join the labor market and rebuild their lives, IRC and Citi Foundation respond with a project

By International Rescue Committee

Asylum seekers in Mexico need support to join the labor market and rebuild their lives, IRC and Citi Foundation respond with a project

As the number of asylum seekers in Mexico continues to increase, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns that technical and entrepreneurial training is necessary to support them in rebuilding their lives.

In 2021, Mexico became the third largest receiver of asylum claims, with almost 130,000 and, by the end of October 2022, it had received more than 97,000 new ones. After Tapachula, on the southern border, Mexico City is the second most common location where displaced people request asylum. Despite being the capital, the economy of the city has contracted 2.08% on average, which generates an adverse scenario for the incorporation of asylum seekers (and any other inhabitant) into the labor market.

To support migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in Mexico City, in early 2022 the IRC launched the first phase of the Resilient Futures project. Resilient Futures consisted in providing the participants with access to different tools according to their needs, including technical training, connection with companies to join internship programs or access to entrepreneurship workshops as well as an allowance to help them cover needs during the implementation of the project.

Based on the information provided by the participants, the IRC identified that:

  • Most participants were unemployed (64%) while, of those who had a job, 27% worked in the informal sector without access to health care and only 9% were part of the formal sector and had access to health care.
  • Participants prioritized using the allowance to pay for transportation (17%), food (15%), and hygiene products (13%).
  • Overall, more than half of the participants who accessed technical training considered it had positively contributed either to their income, to their current jobs, or to their job search.

Rafael Velásquez, Director for Mexico at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), said: “At the IRC we have identified Mexico as a strategic location to respond to the displacement crises in the region, including its potential to become a safe destination for some people. Despite this potential, the protection and asylum systems in Mexico are overwhelmed and support and funding from the international community are insufficient. As needs grow, international cooperation and funding are even more critical to support and strengthen humanitarian responses to guarantee people’s integrity, regardless of their nationality or status.”

The Mexico Resilient Futures project was implemented by the IRC and funded by Citi Foundation in 2022, being focused on supporting refugees and migrants in Mexico City to earn income and gain resilience through skills training, employment preparation, facilitation of connections with the private sector, promotion of financial inclusion, and provision of job placement and business start-up support. During its first phase, which was a pilot, the project supported 139 asylum seekers and refugees. Currently, the IRC and Citi Foundation are preparing a second phase of the project.

“The Citi Foundation, through its Pathways to Progress initiative promotes youth employment,” said Charlotte Gauthier, Program Officer at Citi Foundation. “Through the grant to IRC, the Foundation is supporting opportunities for migrants in Mexico for employment and self-employment. Thanks to the success of the Resilient Futures Project, in 2023 the program will continue to promote a better quality of life for migrants.”

Resilient Futures is part of the International Rescue Committee’s growing livelihoods programming in Mexico, which seeks to safely and legally support refugees, asylum seekers and migrants’ access to work and income-earning so that they may contribute to economic growth in the country. The program works hand-in-hand with IRC’s additional protection programming which seeks to encourage social cohesion with the Mexican host community, mental health, and human rights for populations of concern migrating to or through the country.