These photographs offer a glimpse at Central American immigrant women making a dangerous trip across Mexico by jumping cargo trains to get to the United States. The photographs were taken at Belen Posada del Migrante, a shelter for Central Americans in Saltillo, Mexico, and along isolated stretches of railway outside the city. Discussions on immigration policy in the United States rarely involve the vulnerability of women who travel alone, or with their children, in search of a better life. Most of the women here are from Honduras but a number of them are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Creative guidance by John Sevigny
As young women from a country in which countless women travel to Mexico, we are naturally interested in the condition of Central American women crossing our country to get to the same destination. Unfortunately, Hondurans and other immigrants crossing Mexico face a multitude of dangers, from kidnapping and sexual assault, to robbery and accidents involving the cargo trains they jump to move north. These photographs underscore the need for immigration reform, not only in the United States, but also in Mexico.
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Belen Posada del Migrante in Saltillo, one of more than 20 Roman Catholic Church-run shelters for Central American immigrants traveling to the United States.
Latinas meet Latinas by John Sevigny
Despite their youth, Diana Castillo, 26, and Dariela Diaz, 23, were in many ways the perfect two people to carry out this important project. Both are from Mexico, a country in which millions of people have left their homes and families to live in the United States. Both are women, and both are close to the same age as most of the women they photographed over a period of six months.
Historically, the Northern Mexican state of Coahuila has not been kind to immigrants. In a single year, at least six were killed along isolated stretches of railroad lines by corrupt train-line guards, and in one case, a soldier who machine-gunned three young men as they slept on a hillside.
The women who cross Mexico and Saltillo to get to the port-of-entry at Laredo, Texas, and later, to Houston, New York, California, Florida, or Chicago are particularly vulnerable. Many of them report having been sexually assaulted by the time they arrived in Saltillo and nearly all of them said they had been robbed.
These photographs focus on gestures, experiences seemingly permanently recorded in faces, as well as the safety of the Belen shelter and the danger of open railyards where immigrants wait to jump trains. Woven together, these images of different women from different countries and different background form a single story: the strength, fear and desperation of women looking to improve their own lives and those of their children.