Immigrants’ Rights Lawsuits in Mexico

Like clockwork, nearly every piece of immigration legislation is being challenged by immigrants’ rights groups, most notably the ACLU. These groups have historically served as a check on government overreach, safeguarding the constitutional rights of marginalized groups.

The border crisis has been the catalyst for the recent series of lawsuits. Many of these claims appear in American courts, but immigrants’ rights lawsuits are seldom seen in Mexico. However, activist groups in Mexico are attempting to bring up more of this type of litigation. 

Graciela Zamudio, former head of the Regional Office of the National Human Rights Commission, founded an organization titled Alma Migranta, which seeks to increase immigrant rights litigation in Mexico. Zulmingo argues that U.S. organizations utilize “specific litigation” to defend the rights of immigrants, but in Tijuana and Baja California, specific litigation is rarely used. Alma Migranta seeks to follow the U.S. blueprint and utilize strategic litigation to address the legal issues that arise from immigration throughout Mexico. 

According to Zamudio, Alma Migranta has taken up five to six strategic litigation cases involving recent mass migration, including a notable case in the Inter-American Court where immigration activists from Al Otro Lado were stopped due to a “migratory alert” on their passports. During the mass immigration crisis in the fall of 2018, Alma Migranta attorneys helped successfully strike down a local police order that allowed police to deport migrants for minor crimes

This organization and several others demonstrate the ability to enforce Mexico’s institutional design and apply the law to protect marginalized groups. These structures are notably similar to some of those that exist in the United States. However, Mexico itself has sought to deflect responsibility for the largely unchecked mass migration that has flooded the U.S.-Mexico border.

With the newly passed USMCA, Mexico needs to step up and take on the responsibility of dealing with migrant groups as it seeks to join the First World. Mexico can handle these cases and apply their laws fairly, shouldering at least some of the burden rather than continuing to rely on the U.S. to handle it alone.


Photo by Bill Oxford