EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The number of refugee petitions more than doubled in the past two years in Mexico compared to the combined totals from 2019 and 2020, Mexican officials say.

And the numbers continue to rise, with 12,863 applications received by the Mexican Refugee Assistance Commission (COMAR) this past January compared with the 6,497 filed in January 2022.

More than 31,000 Hondurans filed for refugee status in Mexico last year, followed by 18,087 petitions from Cubans and 17,068 from Haitians, COMAR reported. Venezuelans were fourth with 14,823 applications and Nicaraguans fifth with 8,971. Most filings occurred in COMAR offices in Chiapas, a state bordering Guatemala.

Several hundred Afghans also petitioned for refugee status, refugee commission coordinator Andres Ramirez Silva said on social media. “For the first time in our history Afghan nationals are among the top 10 applicants,” he said.

Graphic courtesy Mexican Refugee Assistance Commission

Mexican officials say they encourage foreign nationals who enter Mexico, even on foot, to petition for refugee status to avoid being detained, deported or falling prey to human traffickers. A humanitarian visa issued to those applying for refugee status allows them to move about designated areas unhindered.

“Mexico has become a country of origin, travel, and destination for migrants, with citizens from 114 countries having come here. We have migrants from our hemisphere, from Asia, Africa and Europe,” said Francisco Garduno Yanez, head of Mexico’s National Migration Institute, who visited Juarez last week.

Mexican immigration permits lay abandoned at the U.S. border wall where migrants turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents. (Julian Resendiz/Border Report)

Border Report crews last December came across several Mexican immigration protection documents discarded along with worn clothing and food containers along a stretch of border wall where hundreds of migrants turned themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol.