The poor U.S. economy and increased enforcement have slowed the flow of illegal immigrants across the Mexican border since 2005, but a third factor is adding to the decline: fear. Warring gangs have attacked Central American migrants traveling through Mexico, The Washington Post
The rising number of attacks and reports of their barbarity have combined to discourage many from attempting the trip, immigration officials, human rights advocates and the travelers themselves report.
“This is my fourth trip, but everything is different now. They’ll kill you for nothing,” Darling Diaz Garcia, a Nicaraguan spending the night at a shelter in Tapachula across from the Guatemala border, told the Post.
Southern Mexican hotels and migrant shelters once filled with people from Central America trying to reach the United States are now half-empty. Mexican apprehensions of Central Americans have dropped from 240,269 in 2005 to 122,049 last year, according to the Post, and apprehension of Central Americans by U.S. agents has dropped by 20 percent a month.
Although migrants traveling north in the past have been victims of robberies and molestations, they now face murder, mass graves, torture, and forced recruitment into drug gangs.
“Their lives are drained away at every step of the journey,” Friar Tomas Gonzalez, who runs a shelter just north of the Guatemala border, told the Post.
Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission reports that at least 11,333 foreign migrants were reported kidnapped between April and September last year. One of the more dangerous areas is the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which the Zeta mafia controls. Almost 75 migrants were massacred last year on a ranch where at least 193 bodies have been recovered from mass graves.
The unidentified travelers were pulled from buses and killed with a sledgehammer, the Post reported.
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