Since 2020, border cities like Tijuana have experienced an increased influx of Mexican migrants: Almost 90 percent of the shelters were occupied by Mexican families escaping violence. For the same period, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports a 322 percent increase in land border encounters of Mexicans.
An underlying issue is that most of these people are leaving behind ejido lands that have been in their families for decades as cartels seize control over more territory. In this project, grantees Stephania Corpi Arnaud and Toya Sarno Jordan explore the perils of these families’ journeys as well as the communities they have been forced to leave behind in Guanajuato, Michoacán, and Guerrero, the Mexican states with the highest presence of organized crime and rising violence. From a single mother whose teenage daughter was shot a block from home, to a family of 20 members—now in California—looking back at the raging violence in Michoacán.
In August 2021 the Mexican government sued 11 American gun makers that presumably manufacture and aim to sell weapons to organized crime groups in Mexico. During that same year, according to the Mexican Commission of Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, 36,272 Mexicans left their states due to threats and extortion from cartels. While academic studies have shown the relationship between the increased violence and weapons in the country, little has been reported about those who flee their communities, creating a flow of displaced people. Many end up seeking asylum in the U.S., the country in which the weapons they are escaping from are manufactured before being smuggled south.
This story is also published in a podcast with Texas Public Radio.