I study migrants traveling through Mexico to the US, and saw how they follow news of dangers – but are not deterred

Angel Alfonso Escamilla García, Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University, The Conversation on

Published in Political News

The world awoke one morning in late March 2023 to the news that at least 38 Central and South American migrants had died in a fire in a migrant detention center in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

A widely circulated video from the closed-circuit cameras inside the detention center showed the building burning, with migrants trapped inside trying to break the metal bars of their cells – and detention center officers allegedly leaving them there.

The Mexican government has said the migrants themselves started the fire after learning they would be deported from Mexico – which is increasingly a destination for migrants and asylum seekers – back to their home countries.

The video spread quickly across social media, and many Mexican migrant advocacy groups and activists decried the event.

Another group also paid close attention to this tragedy – migrants who are in transit through Mexico.

As a sociologist, I have studied the impacts of violence against Central American migrants in Mexico for nearly a decade. I have considered questions like how migrants who are on their way to the U.S. react to news of violence against other migrants, and whether such news alters their plans.


My research has shown that migrants pay close attention to any information that can give them clues about the dangers that lie between them and the U.S.

Migrants have shared with me that they highly value information about any dangers ahead as they move north, whether it relates to criminal groups or U.S. immigration policy changes. Migrants use this knowledge to implement a variety of strategies to avoid, or at least prepare for, any suffering – and it can lead them to take different routes to the U.S. border.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants from around the world transit through Mexico every year on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border. In April 2023 alone, the U.S. detained more than 211,000 migrants along that border. That statistic coincides with an overall rise in global migration and rise in migrants trying to reach the U.S..

The majority of migrants crossing the U.S. border come from Latin American countries other than Mexico, including Central American countries, but also Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Cuba.


swipe to next page


blog comments powered by Disqus