Propelled by deep structural violence and the highest homicide rates in the world, each year hundreds of thousands of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala make their way across Mexico in search of a better and more secure future. As state and transnational security regimes tighten, migrants are funneled into more dangerous routes where they risk abuse, extortion, kidnapping, rape, dismemberment and death. Based on intensive ethnographic fieldwork working in migrant shelters and transit points, this photo essay examines how present-day violence against migrants cannot be separated from longer trajectories of political, criminal and structural violence including war, neoliberal restructuring and the hemispheric war on drugs. I pay particular attention to the ways state and transnational immigration and security policies impact the everyday vulnerabilities experienced by migrants in transit. Along their journeys, migrants are caught within a clandestine cycle of violence with little recourse to law or human rights protection. Immigration discourses and policies that are governed through a paradigm of national security come into conflict with the on the ground realities of human security and safety. This raises crucial questions on the role of the state and international bodies in moving forward to secure human rights for unauthorized migrants in active transit. The photographs included in this essay document the everyday landscapes of the migrant journey across Mexico. While the focus is on the intersections between policy and violence, I also reflect on the growing migrant rights movement in Mexico and new openings for political change. While the migrant journey has become more dangerous, it has also become a crucial space for collective struggle and solidarity.

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