Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Lindsay Gifford

Second Advisor

Christina Garcia Lopez


This thesis argues that Mexico’s refugee regime - its institutions, its legal instruments and its norms - are under serious pressure and, as a result of that pressure, a new refugee regime is emerging in the country. This new refugee regime is based on the notion that the movement of refugees, asylum-seekers and irregular migrants should be effectively managed and strictly controlled. Such pressure, resulting in an aggressive border enforcement strategy implemented by the Mexican state, has come directly from the United States government. New policies and contractual agreements emerging from the United States and Mexico (2018-2019) have made it nearly impossible for Central American refugees to receive asylum status in the United States, leading many to question the capacity of Mexico’s refugee institutions to respond to the needs of the ‘migrant caravans’ in accordance with human rights principles.

Through an in-depth analysis of the institutional framework addressing the needs of refugees in Mexico as well as interviews with refugees and asylum-seekers in Tijuana, Mexico, this thesis examines and responds to growing concerns regarding the capacity of the Mexican state to address migratory crises. Rather than justify the expansion of developing states’ refugee institutions, the main contribution of this thesis is to problematize this expansion under pressure from wealthy, developed states like the United States.