MEXICO CITY — Reported cases of missing migrants in Mexico jumped nearly fourfold in 2021 from 2020, as the country struggles to stem the flow of undocumented people from Central America to the United States, according to a report released Wednesday.
The number of missing foreigners grew by 292 percent to 349 from 89 cases, said the report presented by the Jesuits’ Missing Migrant Search Program (SJM), a human rights organization.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants traverse Mexico every year hoping to reach the United States, often becoming the victims of kidnappings, murders and other crimes.
“There are places where drug cartels lie in wait for migrants to pull them into their ranks,” said Luis Macias, director of SJM in Mexico.
Most of the missing came from countries including Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela.
According to the report, 44 percent of the missing migrants were 18 to 29 years old, 42 percent were 30 to 59 years old, and 14 percent were under 17.
Mexico’s National Migration Institute did not immediately respond a request for comment.
Of those people who go missing but are later located, the SJM said 75 percent were found in an immigration detention center or in temporary housing.
The report stressed there is still significant under-reporting of migrant disappearances in Mexico, worsened by a lack of public information made available by government agencies responsible for finding missing people.
“Policies aimed at disrupting migration flows have increased cases of detention and of (the migrants) not being able to communicate, and consequently the number of disappearances reported by relatives have increased,” said Adrian Estrada, SJM’s coordinator for migrant assistance in Mexico City.