Date of Graduation

Spring 5-14-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Liliana Meza


Mexico’s geographical location has made the country play a centric role in trans-national migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) comprising Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. As a result, immigration has increasingly become a political issue for Mexico over the past decades[1]. Before the eruption of the Central American crisis in the 1980s, Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala was recognized for its openness. However, such a tolerating status-quo changed as the number of NTCA immigrants entering Mexico increased upon the exacerbation of the crisis that placed thousands of individuals in exile. Indeed, the turmoil during the Central American crisis that took place in the 80’s heavily impacted the region as a whole, catalyzing social conflict and displacement. The impact of the civil wars took a toll on a substantial portion of the local population; even after the gradual establishment of peace started taking place, NTCA immigrants continuously entered Mexico for economic rather than humanitarian reasons.

Before the ratification of The New Migration Law (Ley de Migración), The 1974 General Population Law was systematically structured as a coping mechanism for the challenges of the era mainly stemming from a rapid increase in population. With this Law, Mexico virtually made it difficult for immigrants to enter the country. On July 21, 2008 however, irregular migration was decriminalized. A series of claims made by the Mexican society to reform the law to improve policy coherence and implementation measures in an immigrant-friendly manner led to the enactment of the New Migration Law on May 25th, 2011. This law in essence turned out to emphasize the protection of the immigrant’s human rights. Hence, the research question is: what are the socio-demographic factors that indicate the change in health care access of immigrants from the Central American Northern Triangle in Mexico before and after the promulgation of The New Migration Law?This project seeks to determine the factors that affect the NTCA immigrant workers’ accessibility to Mexico’s health care system. The research will analyze two data sets: The Mexican Census of 2010 and the Intercensal Survey of 2015. The purpose of this analysis is to assess whether The New Migration Law has effectively been implemented from the lenses of health care. The hypothesis prior to conducting the analysis was that NTCA immigrants acquired increased access to Mexico’s healthcare system. However, findings show that despite the shift in Law, health care access remains restricted for the NTCA immigrants. This project argues that despite the increased efforts to welcome immigrants into the country, poor governance; extended xenophobia and towards immigrants are the crucial factors that impede effective implementation of law through the lenses of health care accessibility.

[1]Mexico has traditionally been a sending country and emigration has been the central issue for local migration policy. However, this changed during the 2008-2009 crisis, when returning migration from the United States became the source of the largest inflow entering Mexico.