Immigration to Mexico has been important in shaping the country’s demographics. Since the early sixteenth century with the arrival of the Spanish, Mexico has received immigrants from Europe, Africa, the Americas (particularly the United States and Central America), and Asia. Today, millions of their descendants still live in Mexico and can be found working in different professions and industries.
During the colonial era, hundreds of thousands of individuals were taken to what would become Mexico; primarily from West Africa, and to a lesser extent, Southeast Asia, these enslaved individuals were not voluntary immigrants. In the 20th century, Mexico also became a country of refuge, in particular accepting individuals fleeing World War II in Europe, the Spanish Civil War and Guatemalan Civil War.
The Constitution also states that: “Every man has the right to enter the Republic, leave it, travel through its territory and change residence, without the need for a security letter, passport, safe-conduct or other similar requirements. The exercise of this right will be subordinate to the powers of the judicial authority, in cases of criminal or civil liability, and those of the administrative authority, as regards the limitations imposed by the laws on emigration, immigration, and general health of the Republic, or on pernicious foreigners residing in the country. ” Both articles 33 and 9 of the Constitution limit foreigners to meddle in the country’s political affairs.
Article 33 empowers the executive to make leave the national territory, immediately and without the need for a prior trial, any foreigner whose permanence it deems inconvenient. But it grants foreigners the same guarantees as nationals, which is why they are protected by the provisions of Article 4; the equality of men and women, and Article 1 prohibits any discrimination based on ethnic or national origin, gender, age, disabilities, social status, health conditions, religion, opinions, preferences, civil status or any other that violates human dignity and aims to nullify or impair the rights and freedoms of people.
It is important to include that Constitutional Art. 133 indicates that international treaties signed by the president and ratified by the Senate will be the supreme law of the entire union. For this reason, it should be remembered that Mexico is part of various international treaties that protect different protective rights of migrants, such as the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, which in its article 22 establishes the rights of movement and residence, stipulating among others the right to freely leave any country, including one’s own, may only be restricted by-laws to protect national security, public order or security, public morals or health, or the rights and freedoms of others. Mexico is part of the United Nations Convention on Migrant Workers, which broadly stipulates their rights and the corpus juris for the protection of the rights of women and girls.
Immigration in Mexico has not had an overwhelming impact on the total population compared to other countries, but there has been a considerable increase in the foreign population since Mexico was consolidated as an independent nation. Due to the geographical position of Mexico and due to social, economic, climatological, cultural, and transit reasons, foreigners have stayed throughout the territory. Historically, the country has not sought mass immigration but has been the focus of attraction for more selective immigration to which is added an old tradition of political asylum due to religious or ideological persecution, for which reason intellectuals, scientists, and artists reside in Mexico come from other nations and who have contributed in various scientific and artistic fields.
According to the 2020 National Census, there are 1,212,252 foreign-born people registered with the government as living in Mexico. Around 70% of foreigners living in Mexico come from neighboring countries (the United States and Guatemala), other important communities come mainly from Spanish-speaking nations, of which the Venezuelan, Colombian, Honduran, Cuban, Spanish, Salvadorian, and Argentinian communities stand out, the rest of immigration comes from other non-Hispanic nations.