LatinaLista -- Mexican immigrants into the United States have long been characterized as their nation's poorest, being driven from their homes and families because of the poverty that envelops them.
Yet, a new innovative investigative report reveals that today's Mexican immigrants are driven to leave Mexico more out of fear for their lives, and are not just the poor anymore.
The report, Mexodus, a student-reporting project, found that today's Mexican immigrants are middle class families, professionals and businesses who are fleeing their homes and towns for the United States and safer areas of Mexico because of the deadly drug cartel violence and prevalent petty crime happening in their cities.
Mexodus features 20 stories in both Spanish and English, videos, slideshows, photos, info graphics and charts. The report is the work of nearly 100 student journalists from four universities: University of Texas El Paso, California State University Northridge, and Tecnológico de Monterrey in Chihuahua and México City.
Taking nine months to compile, the student journalists uncovered some astonishing facts along the way, such as: Researchers and demographers estimate the exodus from Mexico stands at about 125,000, though experts feel the total could be double that number because of the growing violence; and U.S. asylums filed by Mexicans has soared to 300 percent in the last five years.
Mexodus puts a cara (face) to the victims of this violence and lawlessness that has contributed to branding Mexico in the minds of many as a "failed state." Through the work of the student journalists, we learn about the stories of personal fear, community protection strategies, and the adjustment young people and their families must make when choosing to live north of the border.
Yet, we also learn of those who choose to stay behind and reclaim their lives, their businesses and their hopes in other parts of their country not yet touched by the extreme level of violence as is found in Juarez and along the US-Mexico border.
As much as Mexodus offers an unique insight into the current state of Mexican affairs as told by the people living it, the report was, above all, an exercise for these students to practice a craft that is under attack by cartel violence in Mexico and victimized by the US economy and changing reading habits of US citizens.
Yet, the headline of one of the articles in Mexodus clearly explains why journalistic efforts like this one and journalists are still so badly needed in this world:
"Media can broaden the immigration debate by putting a human face on immigrant experiences"
In fact, media puts a hard-to-ignore human face to stories that most people would like to pretend don't exist -- even if those stories are happening just on the other side of the border.