Asylum Cases From Mexico Doubled Last Year
March 01, 2012

SAN DIEGO -- The number of Mexicans asking for political asylum in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the last year, as drug violence continues affecting the country. But the number of people granted asylum remains small.

In the 2010 fiscal year, about 3,200 Mexicans asked for political asylum in the U.S., according to statistics from the Department of Justice. Only 49 received it.

Last year, more than 6,100 people requested asylum. Only 104 were granted.

Even as the number of asylum cases from Mexico has soared, only between 1 and 2 percent of them have been granted. By contrast, nearly 40 percent of asylum cases from Colombia were granted last year.

David Shirk directs the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego and has served as an expert witness for asylum cases from Mexico.

He said successful asylum seekers generally have to show they are at risk from systematic violence, usually at the hands of the state. But because much of Mexico’s violence is committed by drug gangs, that’s difficult.

And immigration judges have also been cautious of lowering the standard for asylum from Mexico, he said. Doing so could open the door to less credible asylum cases, like possible illegal immigrants facing deportation who cite the fear of drug violence as a reason for being allowed to stay in the U.S., he said.

Recent asylum cases granted from Mexico have included journalists and peace activists who received multiple threats against their lives.

In January, activist Saul Reyes Salazar was granted asylum after several family members were killed by criminal groups.

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