Fear, anxiety and insecurity threaten to turn Puerto Palomas, a small community in Mexico’s northern state of Chihuahua, into a ghost town.

Most hotels, restaurants, shops and other businesses have closed. This border town was once bustling with migrant traffic, but today it is slowly dying.

(SOUNDBITE1, Spanish) Ramón Rodríguez Prieto, district president in Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua
“Immigrants don’t come anymore. Right now we are a secure border, we are trying to see to the economy, since some of the businesses have closed and it has hit our economy. Crossing the border into the United States, the neighboring country, has gradually reduced to nothing over the years, it appears.”

This town of some 5,000 inhabitants is located 150 kilometers west of a major border-crossing point between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, and became a kind of alternative route for undocumented migrants.

Not long ago, thousands of migrants from southern Mexico and Central America converged on Puerto Palomas to try to cross over to the other side.

(SOUNDBITE2, Spanish) Valentín Gutiérrez, resident of Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua
“The delincuents, members of the criminal organization, are the only ones taking charge of crossing, because if they catch you doing that, they will practically kill you — if the delinquents catch you doing that, because they want to be the only ones sending people inside.”

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