Fort Hancock

While Mexico’s drug war rages on, where do those caught in the crossfire find a safe haven?

Filmmaker: John Goheen

The flight of Mexicans to the US has long been primarily for economic reasons, but for many it has now become a matter of life and death.

Mexico is the battleground in an increasingly violent turf war over drugs and for many Mexicans in border communities the only safe haven lies across the international border. Meanwhile, the evolving situation is transforming towns in the US and forcing US officials to reconsider the concept of asylum, and who should qualify for the protection it offers.

More from Al Jazeera’s Narco Season:

• Witness: The Deadliest Beat
• Fault Lines: Mexico: Impunity and profits
• Fault Lines: Mexico’s hidden war
• Fault Lines extra: Community interviews
• Fault Lines extra: Pastor Galvan
• Fault Lines extra: Crime scenes in Juarez

In Fort Hancock, Texas, Mexicans from the nearby town of El Porvenir are begging to stay with American relatives because they say their town has been terrorised by drug gangs who have burned down homes and killed people in the street. Fear hangs in the air for Mexicans and Americans alike.

The number of Mexicans requesting asylum in the US has more than doubled over the course of a year. The problem is that Mexico has one of the largest rates of asylum denial, with just 183 of 9,000 requests granted in the last three years.

Emilio Gutierrez, a Mexican journalist, had his life threatened for writing stories about the drug situation in his home country, and fled to the US with his son. He is just one of many other media professionals who have fled Mexico on special temporary visas, who are desperate for legal status to remain there. He takes us through the agony of being a reporter stuck on the other side, watching his country get torn apart by the drugs war.


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