Mexico ‘a death trap for migrants’ one year after new border program launched

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Honduran migrant Gerardo Cruz never saw the face of the man who pushed him off the train’s ladder as he rode through Chontalpa, Mexico. But through the black of that March night, 20-year-old Cruz said he could make out the white lettering of “Policía Federal” or “Federal Police” on the man’s dark blue uniform.

When Cruz fell, he said, his left arm landed on the tracks and the train’s wheels severed his limb.

“The government officials were the cause of this problem,” Cruz said of his injury, speaking in Spanish. “There should be compensation because this is a crime.”

Mexico’s Southern Border Program was launched in July 2014 in response to an influx of Central American migrants crossing through Mexico, creating a crisis that included tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving at the US border. The program was designed to manage Mexico’s 750-mile border with Guatemala and Belize while protecting migrants settled in the country or en route to the US.

Yet abuses against migrants by both criminal gangs and authorities are actually spiking, according to humanitarian organizations working in Mexico.

“The Southern Border Plan was created — supposedly — to give security to the people coming from countries in Central America, but that’s not true,” said Chiapas-based immigration lawyer Elvira Gordillo.

“Instead of ensuring the safety of migrants, much more violations of human rights in all forms are being committed,” she said to a delegation of activists, religious leaders and lawyers from Los Angeles as they gathered in Tecun Uman, Guatemala.

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