Human rights groups on Tuesday said that US-bound migrants passing through Mexico routinely face abuses, discrimination and even torture.
With the United States gearing efforts to curb a surge of unaccompanied minors mostly from Central America, human rights groups here aired concerns about bad treatment migrants young and old alike face in Mexico.
US-bound “migrants may face jailing, accused of crimes they never committed” and legal rights, such as the right to consular assistance, “essentially almost do not exist where they are concerned,” said Denise Gonzalez of the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center.
“Mexico is a deeply racist and discriminatory country… and that is accentuated in the cases of migrants,” said Amnesty International’s representative in Mexico, Perseo Quiroz.
Quiroz cited the jarring example of Honduran national Angel Amilcar Colon Quevedo, whose son had cancer, prompting him to try to reach the United States to be able to pay for his medical care.
Colon Quevedo, who is black, paid people traffickers in Tijuana 3,000 dollars to get him across to San Diego, in the United States; instead he was locked in a house by the traffickers once they had his money.
Four days later, on May 9, he was arrested during a Mexican police operation and then, insult was added to injury as he was “tortured by members of the (Mexican) army and federal police to try to get him to admit to the crimes with which he was charged,” Gonzalez charged.
Amnesty International said Colon was declared a prisoner of conscience since the group believes he was tortured due to his racial group and subjected to a baseless trial in which he is accused of organized crime.
The United States has seen a huge surge in young migrants fleeing gang violence and poverty in Central America — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
US officials say they have detained more than 57,000 unaccompanied children trying to enter the country since October 2013.
The United States has called it a “humanitarian crisis,” with President Barack Obama urging parents in Central America not to allow their children to risk abuse and death as unaccompanied migrants.