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Latino Daily News

Saturday March 10, 2012

Undocumented Migrants Will Change U.S., Mexican Priest Activists Says

Undocumented Migrants Will Change U.S., Mexican Priest Activists Says

Photo: Migrants preparing for the border

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Undocumented immigrants will remake U.S. society and politics in the coming years, a Mexican priest who advocates on behalf of Central American migrants said.

“They are becoming a hidden, silent revolution that will re-build the United States and transform it into a true democracy,” the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde told Efe at the Guadalajara International Film Festival, which is screening a documentary about the priest’s migrant shelter in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

U.S. authorities estimate the number of undocumented immigrants in the country at around 12 million.

The growing northbound flow of Central Americans fleeing poor economic prospects in their homelands “has demonstrated the failures” of public institutions in both Mexico and the United States, he said.

He also criticized the Catholic Church for what he described as indifference to the plight of the migrants.

Despite death threats from gangsters and harassment by authorities who would like to close the priest’s Casa del Migrante shelter in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, Solalinde said he has no fear of dying and that he has taken the legal steps “to leave everything in order” if he should be killed.

The documentary “El albergue” (The Shelter) shows Solalinde providing food, lodging and advice to Central American migrants who undertake the arduous journey across Mexico in hopes of reaching the United States and realizing the “American Dream.”

Casa del Migrante lies on key smuggling routes used by traffickers of drugs, guns and human beings, Solalinde told Efe, and the film illustrates the abuses migrants suffer at the hands of organized crime, often with the complicity of Mexican authorities.

The documentary also highlights the “double standards” of Mexico’s government, according to the film’s director, Alejandra Islas.

While Mexico demands respect for its citizens in the United States, it allows Central American migrants to be brutalized on its territory, she said.

At least 11,333 migrants, the majority of them from Central America, were kidnapped in Mexico between April and September 2010, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission said in a report released about a year ago.

An estimated 300,000 Central Americans and 400,000 Mexicans undertake the dangerous trek across Mexico each year on their way to the United States