WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
28 Aug 2013 | Commentary

Unsafe Deportations put Migrants in Unnecessary Danger

Originally published by The American Prospect

The Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which sits across the border from Texas, can be a scary place. With one of the largest ports of entry to the United States, Tamaulipas is a coveted drug-trafficking corridor disputed by the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas, and an outside gang called Sinaloa. The spiral into violence began in 2006, when the Mexican government started an all-out war against these criminal organizations. At the height of conflict, newsrooms got attacked, battles often involved grenades, and gruesome mass killings were common, even as the military patrolled the streets. Drug-trafficking organizations are not only into smuggling these days; they engage in theft, piracy, extortion, and, more recently, kidnapping.

A U.S. Department of State travel warning in July 2013 advises U.S. citizens to avoid nonessential travel to the area: “The kidnapping rate for Tamaulipas, the highest for all states in Mexico, more than doubled in the past year.” Mexico’s National Public Security System reported 887 cases of kidnapping in Tamaulipas in the first eight months of 2013. Yet the United States still plays an unwitting role in supplying kidnapping victims through deportations. According to Mexico’s National Migration Institute, deportations to Tamaulipas increased five-fold between 2006 and 2012, from 25,376 to 122,036. Migrants deported from the United States are valuable for criminal organizations because many have family members that will pay a handsome ransom—in dollars.

The Washington Office on Latin America, or WOLA, recently sent a documentary team to the border city of Matamoros in Tamaulipas, across from Brownsville, Texas, to investigate deportation practices and their impact. In the short video below, Raymundo Martinez, one of the seminarians working at the Dioceses of Matamoros migrant shelter, explains the plight of migrants. “The majority of migrants that pass through this house have had run-ins with people who attempt to kidnap or extort them,” Martinez says.

The migrant shelter has been attacked, too. On Christmas Eve, armed men entered the shelter and kidnapped 15 men from the dining room. Shelter officials never heard from them again.[…] Click here to read the rest of this article at The American Prospect.

For more information, see WOLA’s multimedia package on these unsafe deportation practices.