Central American Migrants in Mexico: Implications for U.S. Security and Immigration Policy

16 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2014 Last revised: 6 Aug 2014

See all articles by Amelia Frank-Vitale

Amelia Frank-Vitale

Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA)

Date Written: December 13, 2013


Central American migrants are fleeing increasingly untenable conditions in their home countries. Corruption among Mexican officials and tightened security at borders and checkpoints inside Mexico push these migrants into the hands of criminal organizations while in transit. As such, they are vulnerable to extortion, assault, kidnapping, and murder by those organizations and corrupt authorities. Members of the Catholic Church are stepping in to protect and advocate on behalf of migrants attempting the hazardous trek through Mexico, often atop freight trains, but hundreds of thousands are facing daunting, often lethal perils. The result is a humanitarian crisis that simultaneously strengthens criminal organizations – the unanticipated consequences, as seen by the Church and human rights advocates, of both U.S. and Mexican security and border control policies. Without changes in those policies, they believe, there is little chance that this situation will be overcome. As conditions continue to deteriorate in Honduras and elsewhere in Central America’s Northern Triangle, and the U.S. promises ever-stricter border enforcement, both the volume of out-migration of these refugees and the threats to the physical wellbeing of migrants will likely increase.

Keywords: Central America, Mexico, migration, immigration policy, United States, Catholic Church, religion, violence

Suggested Citation

Frank-Vitale, Amelia, Central American Migrants in Mexico: Implications for U.S. Security and Immigration Policy (December 13, 2013). CLALS Working Paper Series No. 2, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2412769. or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2412769

Amelia Frank-Vitale (Contact Author)

Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) ( email )

1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 615
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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