Home Headlines 5,200 Mexicans living abroad fall into homelessness

5,200 Mexicans living abroad fall into homelessness

by Sofia Navarro
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So far this year, around the world, 5,200 Mexicans have fallen into homelessness, meaning they lack the minimum financial resources to live. This figure is the highest recorded since 2013, and since then, nearly 45,000 compatriots have found themselves in this condition and have been assisted by Mexican consulates, according to data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE).

Alfredo is one of these cases. In 2017, he traveled from Michoacán to New York, but he never planned to pay a smuggler or risk his life crossing illegally. Instead, he saved up with the intention of visiting the country as a tourist and then staying to live there. The Big Apple, he said in an interview with El Sol de México, seemed like the ideal place based on what he had seen in movies.

“I arrived in 2017, and at first, things went well. I found a job, first in an office and then in a fast-food establishment; I became a manager, and they paid me well. But everything changed at the end of 2020 because the restaurant closed due to the pandemic, and since then, finding another job became simply impossible,” he said.

Before returning to Mexico last January, Alfredo lived for almost a year in one of the more than 20 shelters for homeless people that the government of New York had to set up last year to assist the 3,439 homeless people in the city, according to the 2022 census.

“I became homeless because the little I had saved ran out, and there came a time when I didn’t even have enough to eat. I even slept in parks, but they prevented people from staying there due to the risk of contagion.

I think maybe the mistake was choosing a very expensive city. It was better to return to my country; honestly, I never thought I would end up like this; things didn’t turn out as I expected,” he added.

Four out of every ten compatriots who left the country last year in search of a better life elsewhere did so without having a job or a place to go in the chosen destination country, according to data from the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME), part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Many people, especially young ones, explained Javier Urbano, an expert in migration issues, are excited about the adventure and literally leave with a backpack on their shoulders, without a job or a place to go. Those who migrate out of necessity leave in the same way, with a backpack and a few pesos in their pockets.

In the best-case scenario, the expert added, they find work, which is usually poorly paid, and they share accommodation with others, which is often in marginalized areas because it’s more affordable.

The problem arises when they lose their jobs, and it can take months to find another one. With no money left, they have no choice but to leave their housing and find a place to sleep and eat as best as they can.

According to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, based on the testimonies of Mexicans seeking assistance, job loss is the primary reason why they ended up practically on the streets, although there are other factors such as drug addiction and mental illness.

The reduction of federal support in most countries for unemployment and social programs as a result of the pandemic and the economic crisis are other reasons why compatriots ended up homeless.

According to the annual report that the United States produces to assess homeless individuals, in 2022, between four and five percent of the homeless people in that country, about 50,000, were foreign nationals, and of those, about 3,000 claimed to be Mexican.

SRE figures show that the United States is the country where the most assistance has been provided to Mexican homeless individuals this year (3,414), followed by Germany (69), Brazil (32), and France (29), from a list of 92 nations. The majority of those assisted are males.

The support includes facilitating the issuance of passports or identification documents, informing relatives in Mexico about what has happened, and transferring economic resources contributed by their family members.

However, as the SRE warns on its website, it cannot facilitate immigration regularization, obtain employment for the compatriot, or cover the cost of medicines or hospital services for a Mexican citizen.

To access the diplomatic support offered by consulates, one must prove Mexican nationality and be in a homeless situation.

TYT Newsroom

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