June 17, 2015
Attacked and Lost in the Sonoran Desert
Amnesty International and migrant advocacy organizations are demanding answers to the whereabouts of a group of Central American migrants that reportedly vanished June 2 in the Sonoran Desert.
Scores of migrants, perhaps more than 100, could be unaccounted for in the aftermath of an attack on their group near the Sonora-Arizona border. According to survivors’ testimonies, the aggression took place after a truck carrying migrants broke down in the desert. Several other vehicles also transporting migrants presumably on their way to the United States stopped to check out the situation, but were attacked by two unidentified men wearing military-style clothing who opened fire on the large group.
Three migrants, who remain publicly unidentified, were reportedly killed in the attack, and two vehicles burned. Although 13 of the Central Americans were later found safe at a nearby ranch, the survivors said other migrants scattered in the desert as gunfire was directed at them. More than two weeks later, the fates of many migrants in the convoy are not publicly known.
“It is worrisome, apart from the lack of information about the possible whereabouts of other persons-possibly including various women and a child-that the conditions in that zone of the desert are very extreme,” said a statement this week signed by Amnesty International, the Institute for Women in Migration, Casa del Migrante Saltillo and other Mexican migrant advocacy organizations.
The groups demanded the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission, National Executive Commission for Victim Attention and the Mexican federal attorney general’s office in investigating the June 2 incident, clarifying the migrants’ fates and guaranteeing the rights of survivors.
The statement’s signatories criticized Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) for allegedly not informing the rescued migrants of their rights to humanitarian visas and forcing them to sign deportation papers.
In response to pressure from non-governmental organizations, the INM later agreed to issue humanitarian visas with a limited time frame. Nonetheless, an undetermined number of survivors had already reportedly left Mexico in a development that could further complicate an investigation of the June 2 events.
Sources: La Jornada, June 16, 2015. Article by Jose Antonio Roman. Proceso/Apro, June 16, 2015. Article by Mathieu Tourliere.
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Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
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