In our times, for the migrants of the American continent, Mexico is no longer only a country of emigrants, but one of the main transit routes to the U.S. and even a destination, and added to the enormous displacement of internal migrants, it is extremely important to understand the elements of the migrant crisis that is worsening every day. It is necessary to understand the conditions of the migrant population as it crosses our country in vulnerable situations, in particular the common circumstances experienced by women, mostly workers or from the popular strata. Between January and March 2022 alone, 8,989,647 people (nationals and foreigners) have arrived, that is, an increase of 148.7%, according to the document “Estadísticas Migratorias Síntesis 2022” of the Unidad de Política Migratoria, Registro e Identidad de Personas (UPMRIP). This shows the migratory trend observed in recent years and in recent months.
It is vital to discern the demographic composition by gender of the most notable movements in recent years. 22.8% of migrants originating from Central America are women; historically about 51.7% of internal migrants have been women; and approximately 46% of Mexican migrants in the United States are women based on data from the National Population Council (CONAPO). This compares to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) which estimates that half of all migrants and refugees are women.
It is unemployment, insecurity, precariousness, dispossession in the countryside and urban peripheries that push women to seek better living conditions for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, they find the same in their paths and even in their destinies. The vast majority of them are working women who are forced to make the most dangerous journeys. They, and in many cases their children, are exposed to adverse natural conditions, with 10.9% suffering extreme cold or heat and 15.7% experiencing a lack of food or water. Although these figures may seem small, they imply that thousands upon thousands of women suffer from these circumstances. Iconic have become the images of massive encampments along international crossings, on the banks of the Rio Grande/Grande or the shelters, all unable to cope with the extreme temperatures of the north. And depending on precarious jobs or the generosity of local populations for sustenance, there is no doubt that starvation is a reality for many. In short, spending even months of heat, cold and hunger in the hope of better futures in a promised land.
They suffer vulnerability to organized crime and violence by the State. They tolerate robberies, assaults, sexual assaults (31.4% of women transiting through Mexico have suffered), the possibility of being taken into sexual exploitation and massacres such as those that took place on the border of Tamaulipas. On the other hand, 66.5% of migrant women who have suffered some type of violence say that they have experienced some incident at the hands of a government agency. Persistent acts even under MORENA’s governance and evident by incidents at the borders with the National Guard and in places like Cd. Juarez, with the forced and violent eviction of Venezuelan migrants from the banks of the Rio Bravo. Clear examples of how AMLO’s social democratic government has gone against the rights of migrants has been the advance of a common policy with the U.S. and Canada to violate and control the flow of a massive labor pool. Not to mention the subhuman conditions in which U.S. authorities will keep these women and their children while they await asylum or deportation. It is important to note that these data may underestimate the extent to which women are violated because of a general reluctance to disclose their lived experiences.
Thousands upon thousands of women each year risk a myriad of events to reach the United States or simply remain in Mexico. Although they perceive an improvement in their income and material conditions compared to their places of origin, in the end they cannot escape their class status, they persist in capitalist exploitation. Even if they are able to obtain employment, they will endure greater discrimination, in Mexico and the United States, they will tend to occupy the most precarious jobs and will receive salaries almost half of what native women receive. In Mexico, 70% of foreign migrant women work in the domestic sector, a sector lacking many labor rights. In the U.S., 41.3% enter service jobs, where a significant percentage perform domestic work; 20.2% enter sales and administrative support, and 19.9% become skilled laborers. In the U.S., as in Mexico, they will face poor and precarious conditions largely because they are immigrants.
What is the common element between the factors that encourage migration, the abuses inflicted on women, and the quality of work that awaits them at their destination?
In itself it is fundamentally Capital in its most predatory form, imperialism. It is imperialism that conditions the movement of these great masses; that regulates the redistribution of the principal factor of world economic life, labor; that creates the immense reserve of labor emanating from the pauperized classes and strata; and that shapes the interests of the monopolies to create the great repressive alliances. These are the laws and dynamics of the imperialist chain that governs the distribution of labor to specific branches. It is organic to the system that women are pushed into the large industrial production of the maquilas, into domestic work, cleaning, other services and forced into sex work, limiting their labor, intellectual and cultural development. Wherever women workers go, they face persistent exploitation and equalization of wage levels. Emancipation becomes a luxury for proletarianized migrant women, unable to escape and constrained by the prevailing oppression of Capital. Migrant women are violated and violated by imperialist domination, whatever the nationality of the monopoly bourgeoisie that executes it.