“Migrants are very susceptible to falling victims to this type of crime,” says Luz María Pérez Cabrera, referring to Mexico’s growing human trafficking problem.
With the backing of a local non-profit organization called Un Mundo Una Nación AC, she runs a shelter for migrants in Pizaco, Tlaxcala state, called La Sagrada Familia, the Sacred Family. Located near a set of railroad tracks over which trains carry freight and humans, the shelter is an oasis for the migrants — more than 80 percent of them men — who stop by.
“My journey has been very sad,” says a young woman from Honduras who is three months pregnant. “I’ve been hungry, cold, I’ve also been thirsty. Not too many people will give a glass of water to someone like me.”
Luz María takes them in — tired, hungry, thirsty, mistreated and even injured — and listens to their stories of abuse, their fears and dreams. She and her team also discuss the challenges ahead and the dangers, particularly at the hands of criminal groups who prey on migrants.
“Migrants don’t have a safety net here, so they fall victim to extortion,” says Luz María. “But they don’t denounce these things, because they often have to hide so they don’t attract the attention of local authorities who can deport them.”
PADF is working to build a multi-sector alliance to combat trafficking.
Even migrants have rights, she says. This is why she talks to them to ensure that they learn about human rights, about who in Mexico has the authority to stop them, and what kinds of people and organizations they can rely on for help. With support from PADF, the shelter also plans to increase its reach in the community in order to better assist migrants.
“We thank PADF for helping us make this issue more visible and help prevent people from joining groups that could affect the rights of migrants,” says Luz María.