The So-Called Stateless: Firm Resettlement, African Migrants, and Human Rights Violations in Mexico

44 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2023

Date Written: April 7, 2023


This paper explores Mexico’s reactionary migration policies, especially concerning the labeling of African migrants and asylum-seekers as so-called “stateless” and the subsequent unsolicited permanent residence status it offers, and address the numerous international and domestic legal violations contained within. Part I of this article presents the lived experiences of African asylum-seekers traveling through Mexico in 2015 and 2019 to demonstrate the direct impact of Mexican migratory policy changes. Many Black migrants and asylum-seekers, as well as Afro-Mexicans, have raised awareness of anti-Blackness in Mexico and of how racism is pervasive. Part II of this article explains Trump-era changes to U.S. immigration policies, many of which continue under the Biden Administration. This section first addresses those policies directly promulgated by the United States, and subsequently focuses on Mexican immigration policies affecting migrants in transit. Part III of this article explores the concept of statelessness, including the internationally recognized legal definition, legal norms, and regional instruments. This section discusses Mexico’s interpretation of statelessness and how it disproportionately, if not entirely, impacts Black migrants. Part IV of this article explains the harm to U.S. asylum claims caused by the offer of permanent residence in a third country such as Mexico, namely the firm resettlement bar. Part V addresses possible solutions moving forward, in both U.S. immigration law and in Mexican law, on domestic, regional, and international levels in order to prevent more persons in migration from being issued a legal status which they did not understand nor want, to which they did not consent, and which has severe adverse impacts for their future migration goals.

Keywords: asylum, refugees, Mexico, migration, human rights, immigration

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Claire R., The So-Called Stateless: Firm Resettlement, African Migrants, and Human Rights Violations in Mexico (April 7, 2023). Boston University Public Interest Law Journal, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2023, NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 4413024, Available at SSRN:

Claire R. Thomas (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States

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