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  • A woman from Honduras poses for a photograph with her children at a migrant shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico, on April 12, 2017.

    A woman from Honduras poses for a photograph with her children at a migrant shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico, on April 12, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Mexican authorities granted refugee status to about one in every three applicants from the Northern Triangle in 2016

Immigrants from Central American countries are increasingly choosing to resettle in Mexico instead of the United States, as President Donald Trump’s administration tightens its Immigration policies. 

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Mexico received 3,424 applications for refugee statues in 2015 and that number increased to 8,794 in 2016.

The country is on track to receive even more refugee applications this year - a total of 5,464 have already applied in the period from January to May.

"I do think there are fewer people deciding to focus their sights on the United States precisely because it has projected itself as being an unwelcoming country," Maureen Meyer, a senior associate for Mexico at the Washington Office on Latin America, told the Associated Press. 

For years, Mexico has largely been a waypoint for people from the so-called Northern Triangle countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, who were trying to cross into the U.S. and petition for asylum.

But many have recently decided that Mexico is a safer option. 

Laura Maria Cruz Martinez, a single mother with nine children in her care, fled Honduras after receiving threats from local gang members.

Her family thought the journey across Mexico into the U.S. would have been too dangerous and they couldn't return home.

"If they sent us back to our country it was certain death," said Emma Karina Cruz Velasquez, the niece.

They decided to turn themselves in to the Mexican authorities at the El Ceibo border crossing.

The family were recognized as refugees in March and granted asylum. 

"If you look at Mexico's definition of who can qualify for asylum, it's much broader than the United States," Meyer said. "If you are fleeing widespread violence in your country, you may be able to qualify for asylum in Mexico, whereas in the U.S. you have to prove that you belong to very specific group of people."

Mexico granted refugee status to about one in every three applicants from the Northern Triangle in 2016, according to government data.

By contrast, the U.S. denies about 80 percent of asylum claims by people from those countries, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

“We have asked them [Northern Triangle countries] to ask their citizens to not waste the money and head north, do not get on that terribly dangerous network,” Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said in testimony to the Senate in June. “Stay where they are, because if they come here, this is no longer an illegal-alien-friendly environment.”

The Mexico office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees believes the country could receive 20,000 requests by the end of the year.

"We're talking about entire families, of entire generations ... who arrive at Mexico's southern border," said Francesca Fontanini, regional spokeswoman for the UNHCR.

"Obviously, facing this avalanche of people the humanitarian response needs to increase."


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