French news agency AFP, and Yahoo published a story under the headline Mexico announces aid options for Central American migrants. It starts out with the following:

October 26, 2018 [dateline on Yahoo]

Mexico City (AFP) - Mexico on Friday announced it will offer Central American migrants medical care, education for their children and access to temporary jobs as long as they stay in two southern states.

The plan was the first broad and detailed bid to address concerns of the flood of migrants, mostly from Honduras, who -- facing deadly violence and desperation at home -- set out in caravans for the United States.

Based on the report, it seems Mexico has made generous and substantial offer of aid. Yet the major US news organizations seem not to have taken notice of it, nor have a large number of displaced persons now in Mexico. This has me wondering why.

Question: Does Mexico's offer somehow change the status or rights of the displaced persons under international law?

For example, a Honduran individual (or family) is offered humanitarian protection in Mexico (where they are physically present.) If they choose not to accept it and keep migrating, are they a forcibly displaced person under international law?

  • Isn't this a moot point since the caravans have since moved on? Nov 5, 2018 at 16:17
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    Moving on, in mass, without applying for asylum is exactly what I'm wondering about. Those who register w/ authorities can be deemed refugees, or at least asylum-seekers. What is the status of those who don't? Nov 5, 2018 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


The exact same question has been discussed hundreds of times in relation to European refugees who cross through 5-6 perfectly safe countries before reaching Germany or the UK and applying for asylum there, presuming they arrive to Europe via the Balkan route. Refugees who arrive to Europe by boat through Malta, Spain or Italy are likewise transiting through at least one state which could offer them full protection but instead choose to travel further to greener pastures.

The 1951 Convention on Refugees doesn't address this question directly and therefore formally speaking one's refugee status does not change merely because they've transited through one or more safe country on their way to the US. Likewise according to current US law all refugees must be given a fair hearing, even if it is known they've been previously offered asylum in Mexico. So to directly answer your question - no, the legal status of the refugee caravan does not change because of Mexico's offer.

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