Amidst policy debates over immigration reform, we often forget the human tragedies that accompany the border conflict we find ourselves in. In a stark reminder of why immigrants' rights are such a pressing human rights concern, six Central Americans riding atop a train in hopes of coming to the U.S. were killed last week when the train derailed.
According to The Washington Post, the train, which is nicknamed “The Beast,” was overtaken by armed men who threatened the migrants riding precariously on top of the train. When several cars were derailed near Chontalpa, Mexico, many of the 250 migrants riding on top were thrown off the train. Migrants from Central America have surreptitiously ridden "The Beast" for years, and its nickname originates in the many lives it has claimed.
According to the report, those who died had tied themselves to the train, and were thus stuck when the train derailed suddenly. Casualties could have been far greater, but thankfully the train was traveling at only 2 miles per hour at the time of the accident.
The armed men are some the many dangers that accompany the perilous ride on “The Beast,” and they often rob, extort, kidnap and rape vulnerable migrants. Many children and young teenagers ride "The Beast" in hopes of getting to the U.S., only to be gravely injured, robbed, or worse. In this particular accident, victims ranged in age from 19 to 58.
Guatemalan and Honduran officials arrived to help identify bodies and help provide medical aid. Mexican officials have stated that they will allow survivors of the accident to remain in Mexico for up to a year, and apply for citizenship if desired.
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