Sunday, July 4, 2010

For migrants, a dangerous trip through Mexico

Salvadoran migrants run to jump on a train to the border with the United States, in Lecheria, north of Mexico City, on June 1, 2010.

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By William Booth
Friday, Jun 18, 2010

IXTEPEC, MEXICO -- As the Mexican government condemns a new immigration law in Arizona as cruel and xenophobic, illegal migrants passing through Mexico are routinely robbed, raped and kidnapped by criminal gangs that often work alongside corrupt police, according to human rights advocates.

Immigration experts and Catholic priests who shelter the travelers say that Mexico's strict laws to protect the rights of illegal migrants are often ignored and that undocumented migrants from Central America face a brutal passage through the country. They are stoned by angry villagers, who fear that the Central Americans will bring crime or disease, and are fleeced by hustlers. Mexican police and authorities often demand bribes.

Mexico detained and deported more than 64,000 illegal migrants last year, according to the National Migration Institute. A few years ago, Mexico detained 200,000 undocumented migrants. The lower numbers are the result of tougher enforcement on the U.S. border, the global economic slowdown and, say some experts, the robbery and assaults migrants face in Mexico.

The National Commission on Human Rights, a government agency, estimates that 20,000 migrants are kidnapped each year in Mexico.

While held for ransom, increasingly at the hands of Mexico's powerful drug cartels, many migrants are tortured -- threatened with execution, beaten with bats and submerged in buckets of water or to complete article

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