In Mexico, rails are risky crossing for a new wave of Central American migrants

July 16, 2013

Train Tracks by HeraldicosThe Washington Post, 7/15/2013

At a makeshift church shelter beyond the industrial parks north of Mexico City, the train riders wait under a canvas tent, listening for a locomotive horn. They keep their shoes on and their backpacks zipped. The tracks outside run through Mexico’s central highlands and all the way to the Texas border. The shelter is a halfway point for Central Americans on the 1,500-mile trip north, but many do not arrive here in one piece.

Central Americans have been catching freight trains to the U.S. border for years, risking injury or worse for a free ride and a path clear of Mexican government checkpoints. But at a time when illegal immigration to the United States remains near its lowest point in four decades, the number of Central Americans going north has soared, putting new attention on the rail system that takes thousands to the border each year.

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Church wants to reassign Mexico activist priest

August 8, 2012

The Associated Press, 8/8/2012

A crusading Roman Catholic priest who has defied drug cartels and corrupt police to protect Central American migrants said Wednesday that church authorities are trying to smother his activist work with migrants by assigning him to parish duties.

The Rev. Alejandro Solalinde has become well known in Mexico after enduring death threats for publicly denouncing drug gangs and police who rob and kidnap Central American migrants crossing Mexico to reach the United States.

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Central Americans flood north through Mexico to US

July 12, 2012

The Dallas Morning News 7/12/12

While the number of Mexicans heading to the U.S. has dropped dramatically, a surge of Central American migrants is making the 1,000-mile northbound journey this year, fueled in large part by the rising violence brought by the spread of Mexican drug cartels.  Other factors, experts say, are an easing in migration enforcement by Mexican authorities, and a false perception that Mexican criminal gangs are not preying on migrants as much as they had been.

Central American migration remains small compared to the numbers of Mexicans still headed north, but their steeply rising numbers speak starkly to the violence and poverty at home. The perils of the journey have pushed smuggling fees as high as $7,000, as much as double the earlier rates, for a trip that takes weeks, or even months for those delayed by robberies, health problems or difficulties finding transportation.

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Priest who denounced abuse, kidnapping of migrants in southern Mexico flees death threats

May 14, 2012

The Washington Post, 5/14/12

An outspoken priest who runs a shelter for migrants in southern Mexico has temporarily left his facility after receiving death threats, the shelter coordinator said Monday. The “Hermanos en el Camino” shelter run by the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde said in a statement that the Roman Catholic priest is “protecting his physical safety” until state and federal prosecutors thoroughly investigate the threats.

The shelter said Solalinde is expected to return to his work, but didn’t say when. “International human rights organization that work closely with Solalinde suggested he go away for a while,” said Jose Alberto Donis, who coordinates activities at the shelter.

Donis said the most recent threat came on April 15. Prosecutors in southern Oaxaca state have said they are investigating and are providing police security for Solalinde. Solalinde has become widely known in Mexico for publicly denouncing corruption and abuse of mainly Central American migrants who cross into Mexico seeking to reach the United States.

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In Mexico, rising tension at shelter for migrants

May 7, 2012

The Sacramento Bee, 5/7/12

The travelers, with bloodshot eyes and sleep-wrinkled clothes, press around a man with a map of Mexico taped to the wall. He speaks, and his finger traces various routes north to the border. All roads lead to trouble.

Up here, kidnappers and drug killers. Over there, Mexican army checkpoints. Farther along, a giant desert, with poisonous snakes and deadly heat. Listeners rise on tiptoes to see better. A woman asks for a piece of paper; she wants to remember the name of the Mexican state bordering Arizona. Sonora. Others swap hesitant looks but stay silent, like soldiers being briefed on a terrible foe.

They are migrants, almost all from Central America, and they have endured much to reach this place, a church-run shelter about an hour’s drive north of Mexico City. And they will endure more. The man with the map is a volunteer whose job is to make sure they know how much more.

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Op-ed: Central Americans determined to trek north to U.S.

April 29, 2012

The Washington Times, Guy Taylor, 4/29/12

About 200 impoverished and undocumented migrants recently packed into a small building in this ramshackle town 20 miles north of Mexico City.

Nearly all were from Honduras and headed for the U.S. border. Almost none spoke a word in the shelter’s dark main room, where the only thing thicker than the smell of unwashed clothes was a sense of fear. “Yeah, I’m scared,” said Victor Caseres, 26, who had traveled 750 miles by hopping freight trains to arrive at the shelter, one of more than a dozen run by the Catholic Church in Mexico to provide refuge for migrants.

“Everything’s been all right so far, but going forward, I’m afraid. Sometimes criminal guys hop on the train, and they’ll rob you or kill you.” Migrants in search of jobs in the U.S. face a gantlet of life-or-death risks in their treks across Mexico from its southern border: Many fall prey to extortion, kidnapping, rape and killing by crooked police and criminal gangs.

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Migrants are Victims of Discrimination in Mexico, Survey Shows

February 29, 2012

Fox News Latino, 2/29/12

Four out of every 10 Mexicans say migrants’ rights are not respected in Mexico, while five of every 10 say Central American migrants’ rights are only respected “a little or not much” and three out of 10 say that group’s rights “are not respected at all,” a survey found.

Some 38.9 percent of respondents said the main problem facing foreigners in Mexico was unemployment, with crime a close second, the 2010 National Survey on Discrimination in Mexico, or Enadis, found. The survey of 52,095 people in 13,751 households was conducted between October and November 2010 by the National Council to Prevent Discrimination, or Conapred, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM.

The survey’s results were released Tuesday at the Government Secretariat in Mexico City to provide insights into the situation of migrants.

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Mexico army finds 73 Central American migrants in houses near US border, arrest 4 other men

February 9, 2012

The Washington Post, 2/9/12

The Mexican army says it has found 73 Central American migrants in three houses near the U.S. border and troops arrested four men suspected of planning to smuggle the people into Texas.

A Defense Department statement Thursday says the illegal immigrants, including 18 minors, are being treated as witnesses in the case. Soldiers raided the three homes simultaneously Tuesday in the city of Miguel Aleman, which is across from Roma, Texas.

The army and federal police have increasingly been rescuing migrants who have been kidnapped and held for ransom by drug cartels along the U.S. border. But it wasn’t clear if the migrants found in Miguel Aleman were being held against their will.

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Mothers of Central American migrants missing in Mexico search for children

November 8, 2011

The Washington Post, 11/8/11

Mothers of Central American migrants who went missing in Mexico are traveling the country in search of their sons and daughters.

A group of 33 mothers from Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua reached Mexico City on Tuesday, nine days after entering Mexico through its border with Guatemala. They have visited some of the most dangerous spots for U.S.-bound migrants in northern Mexico.

Carrying photos of their missing children around their necks, the women visited the northern town of San Fernando where the Zetas cartel massacred 72 mostly Central American migrants last year.

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Mexico army rescues 15 kidnapped Honduran migrants

November 2, 2011

Associated Press, 11/1/11

Mexico’s Defense Department says soldiers have rescued 15 Honduran migrants who had been kidnapped and were being held in a house in Nuevo Laredo on the border with the United States.

The military says troops patroling in the Privada Esmeralda neighborhood on Monday detained a man who was watching over the migrants. A statement Wednesday gives no other details of the rescue in Nuevo Laredo, which is across the border from Laredo, Texas.

Soldiers and federal police have been increasingly rescuing migrants kidnapped by drug cartels. Authorities say migrants are kidnapped for ransom or to be forced to work for the crime syndicates.

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