Country: Mexico
Categories: Procedures Design
Tags: Triaging
Timeframe: November 2020-Ongoing

Entities sharing this good practice: Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR)

Submitted by: Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR)

Key stakeholders: UNHCR Mexico, (QAI Program)

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Good practice
In 2019, Mexico received 70,431 applications for recognition of refugee status. The top three nationalities of applicants were Honduras (30,283), El Salvador (9,079) and Cuba (8,732). In mid-2019, Mexico began to receive an unusual number of Haitians who made a request for recognition of refugee status with the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR). In 2019, 5,581 Haitians claimed asylum in Mexican territory, positioning Haiti as the fourth country with the highest number of asylum claims in the Chiapas Delegation and the fifth in the COMAR headquarters in Mexico City. In 2020, the numbers continued to grow with 5,938 applications for recognition of refugee status received from Haitians, 90% in the Tapachula Delegation. In relation to Cuba, there were 5,772 requests in 2020, of which 66% were registered in the Tapachula Delegation. COMAR has different representative offices that carry out the refugee status determination (RSD) procedure. To manage the increase in asylum applications fairly and efficiently, there was a need to homogenize decision-making in the different COMAR offices, together with the need to streamline the eligibility process. This led to the development of support packages for the eligibility analysis. The support packages included a series of documents:
  • Country of origin information (COI) document
  • Template Decisions
  • Interview guides
The COI document took into account the most up-to-date sources in relation to Haiti, thus establishing a series of risk profiles. Likewise, COMAR established a series of steps to be considered to verify the existence of well-founded fear of persecution of those who fall within these risk profiles.


  • Research and elaboration of the COI document; identification of risk profiles
  • Preparation of model resolutions; preparation of a general interview script and specific interview script by profiles
  • Training: the packages were accompanied by a 5-hour training in relation to a) COI per profile, b) the use of the correct tools according to each profile, and c) the development of interview guides that present some topics to be explored during the interview according to each profile (considering, among other things, the need for the interviews to be carried out with the help of interpreters). These trainings were carried out for officers from different offices throughout the national territory virtually (due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic).
  • Monitoring the use of the tools developed, with the objective of: (1) guaranteeing that the tools are being used in a homogeneous manner; (2) ensuring that the tools are being used critically and responsibly, and preventing the pre-populated questions from being used mechanically; (3) ensuring that the cases are being duly individualized within the model proposed for each profile; (4) verifying if the tools have supported the decrease in the decision making time of each case.

Impact of the good practice

Simplification of the process, guaranteeing the quality of the procedure and efficiency in decision making.
Challenges in implementation
  • At first, the implementation required a change in the mindset of the people involved in taking the interview and analyzing the cases, since it implied a different work modality from the one, they were used to.
  • The strengthening of triage mechanisms continues to be a challenge, which will require training and availability of tools to carry it out.
  • It is necessary to strengthen the infrastructure aspects in order to better implement the practice (particularly, to have sufficient interview rooms).
  • Maintenance involved in keeping the tools always updated.
Impact of Covid-19
The need to maintain social distance measures meant that it was taking longer for cases to be scheduled and to attend to applicants in a timely manner. It made the space in COMAR offices insufficient, and caused delays in the flow of the procedure. This situation made it necessary for interviews to be conducted remotely.
Lessons learned
  • This procedure demonstrates the benefits of implementing diversified case processing strategies in the face of significant growth in asylum applications.
  • Monitoring the implementation of the differentiated procedures is crucial for their effective application and for the achievement of the proposed objectives. This monitoring includes accompanying eligibility officers on their daily activities to assure they are using the tools developed in an effective manner (interview shadowing, legal assessments review, etc).