In early March, 2015, a small group of researchers from the Washington-based Wilson Center and from Mexico’s Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas traveled to the southwestern section of the Mexico-Guatemala border to observe developments in migration, various types of illicit trafficking, trade, and border management. While there, we met with a wide range of government and non-governmental actors. We crossed the border and visited the official and irregular installations at Ciudad Hidalgo-Tecún Umán and Talisman-El Carmen. We met with officials from Mexico’s SRE (Foreign Ministry), SEMAR (Navy/Marines), the Interior Ministry’s Coordinación para la Atención Integral de la Migración en la Frontera Sur, and INM (National Immigration Institute); including a visit to the migrant holding center Estación Migratoria Siglo XXI in Tapachula. We were able to dialogue with a range of Chiapas state officials in charge of law enforcement and economic development in the border region. We visited two migrant shelters run by Scalabrini priests, one on each side of the border, and held meetings with NGO representatives and academics working on issues of human rights protection in relation to migrants, migrant workers, sex workers and victims of human trafficking. Finally, we met with Guatemala’s interagency border security task force, Fuerza de Tarea Interinstitucional Tecun Uman, including personnel from several Guatemalan government agencies.

Below, each of the five researchers participating in the visit presents a short reflection based on several of these encounters.