Report analyzes the contribution of Guatemalan seasonal migrant workers to the development of southern Mexico

Guatemala, Mexico
12 February, 2021

A study focused on foreign workers currently in southern Mexico revealed the main vulnerabilities and opportunities provided for Mexico's economic growth by thousands of migrants of Guatemalan origin who, for decades, have been working seasonally on Mexico's southern border.


"With this diagnosis that we are presenting, we are trying to understand and explain how the presence of foreign migrant workers is indispensable for the economic development of southern Mexico. IOM sees this cyclical migration flow as an opportunity to contribute to the economic growth of both the countries of origin and Mexico as a recipient," said Laura Canché, coordinator of IOM Mexico's Western Hemisphere Program.


The study "Guatemalan temporary workers in Chiapas, Mexico. A diagnosis based on documentation to conduct payed jobs”, analyzes the migratory context of the southern border, the regulations to work, the labor insertion of those who have migrated to work, and the areas of opportunity that open up with the presence of this labor force.


 The analysis recognizes that there is "great dynamism" in Mexico's southern border, but at the same time, vulnerabilities that must be addressed with these temporary migrant workers, such as the little or no use of migration documents. 


It also points at great challenges in terms of management and regulation of migration flows, and in the need to promote actions that facilitate access to better job opportunities for workers in a context of social inequality and labor precariousness that does not distinguish between Mexican and foreign workers.


The study states that in recent years the labor market in Chiapas has been less and less attractive for Guatemalan workers. It admits that part of this contingent was absorbed by the Guatemalan labor market, while another part has joined the increasing irregular flows intending to reach the United States.


One of the main recommendations of the study is that Mexico should take better advantage of this presence of international migrant workers, particularly women who are arriving with proper migratory documents to work.


The study was presented by Rocio Gonzalez, Head of the Migration Policy, Registration and Identity of Persons Unit (UPM-RIP), and academic Alberto Hernandez, President of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), which together with the IOM and ILO developed the study.


In IOM, the study was conducted within the Western Hemisphere Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Find the full study (in Spanish) here.


For more information please contact Alberto Cabezas, National Communications Officer at IOM Mexico. Email:, Tel: +52 55 454525 8361