In September 2015, I spent time in Mexico investigating the crackdown of migrants fleeing violence in Central America. Tens of millions of dollars were funded by the U.S. to keep migrants from reaching the U.S.- Mexico border. The Oct. 11 New York Times Sunday Review published my piece, Refugees at our Door, where I shared the effects of the crackdown through the stories of migrants fleeing countries torn apart by gangs and drug traffickers. If you agree you don’t want the US government paying Mexico to send Central American refugees back to their countries, sometimes to their deaths, contact federal lawmakers by signing my MoveOn.org petition. Below are photos of migrants who shared their stories with me during my visit to various migrant shelters last year.
Yester Ramon Alvarado Flores, a Honduran migrant, was shot in the arm twice by 18th street gangsters. His injuries lessened the strength in his arm and fingers. Many of his family members, including his brother and cousin, were killed by members of the same gang.
Nelson Antonio Fonseca, 44, a Nicaraguan migrant ,showing what is left from the gangrene infection that almost led to him losing his arm as he migrated north
At the Shelter of Jesus the Good Shepherd, director Olga Sánchez Martínez helps Central American migrants left deeply injured by Mexico’s freight trains. Many, seen here in 2003, have lost limbs; others have been attacked by machete-wielding gangsters who control the train tops. Today, some 18,000 Central Americans are being kidnapped each year in Mexico by narco-trafficking cartels. The cartels extort money from parents and other relatives in the United States.
Each day, shelter director Olga Sánchez Martínez cleans and dresses migrants’ wounds. Fausto Mejillas Guerrero, from Honduras, lost half a foot to the train.
Hugo Tambrís Sióp, 14, checks how well his wounds are healing with the help of a mirror. He lost part of his right leg and three toes on his left foot.
Tránsito Encarnación Martínes Hernández, from Honduras, lost part of both legs to a train.
Olga Sánchez Martínez and a shelter volunteer take injured migrants to the beach. For many migrants, it is the first time they have seen an ocean.
Leti Isabela Mejía Yanes sits on the beach.
Olga Sánchez Martínez and a shelter volunteer help Hugo Tambrís Sióp, 14, get out of the ocean.
Olga Sánchez Martínez removes stitches from a migrant who was attacked by machete-wielding gangsters on a train. They slashed his head, an ear, and an arm.
Leti Isabela Mejía Yanes, a single mother of three children, lost both legs trying to board a Mexican freight train. She was trying to reach the United States to send money to Honduras so her children could eat more than once a day.
- For photos that accompanied the newspaper series Enrique’s Journey, first published in the Los Angeles Times, click LA Times or Pulitzer Prize
- Interview with Don Bartletti, LA Times photographer whose stories accompanied Sonia’s original series about Enrique Journey