Legal support for migrant women and children victims of trafficking

Against trafficking, actions: legal support for custody and family reunification processes

Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración, A.C.

Human Rights

Our story

When Mónica was 20 years old, she was taken from her baby and trafficked from Mexico to New York where she was forced into prostitution. After four years, she escaped and bravely participated in the criminal case against her trafficker. After receiving a trafficking (T) visa, Monica longed to bring her daughter, Daniela, to New York, but Daniela was being held by the trafficker’s family in Mexico. How could Monica find her daughter, re-gain legal custody in Mexico, and bring her to New York? Monica’s lawyers contacted IMUMI and for two years, the Mexican family law attorney worked with federal Mexican and U.S. officials to locate Daniela, recover physical and legal custody, and re-unite her with her mother.

IMUMI provides legal representation to resolve cases such as Monica’s — families that have been separated by human trafficking. We have succeeded in reuniting migrant mothers, victims of trafficking, with the children they had to leave behind when they were trafficked from Mexico to the U.S. This involves locating children, filing complex criminal and family law cases to recover custody, and coordination with government authorities,
lawyers representing the victims in the U.S., and the mothers who endure the emotional stress of long legal processes.

Help us raise funds to continue providing legal representation in cases such as Monica’s.

Our goal is to raise USD $5,000 for:

  1. 30 % of the annual salary for our Mexican family law attorney;

  2. $1,000 for official translations, apostilles and communication costs;

  3. $700 for printing legal rights information.

Even if we do not reach our goal, the funds raised will be used to pay for the documentation needs of trafficking victims´children such as passports, transportation, apostilles, and official translations. IMUMI is also
working on a legal manual for U.S. attorneys that describes Mexican family law procedures and the bi-national legal strategies we have used to address these cases.

According to the U.S. Department of State, mexican authorities initiated 188 federal and 288 state investigations in 2016, compared with 250 federal and 415 state investigations for trafficking in 2015. Authorities initiated prosecutions against 479 individuals in federal and state cases in 2016 compared to 578 individuals in federal and state cases in 2015. Mexican authorities reported convicting 228 traffickers involved in 127 federal and state cases in 2016.

Human trafficking affects not only the victims, but also their families. Many trafficking survivors identify re-unification with their children as their most pressing concern. Many times they can no longer travel to Mexico
due to security or immigration issues, and their children are often in the hands of the trafficker´s family. Re-uniting trafficking victims with their children is fundamental to the emotional recovery of trafficking victims, recognizes the right of children to family life, and prevents trafficking of these children in the future.

There are many challenges we face:

  1. Impunity: Mexico has a 98% impunity rate for criminal prosecutions which makes it difficult to bring traffickers to justice.

  2. Security: Cases are often located in towns known for their high incidence of trafficking and related crimes so IMUMI´s staff must utilize federal protection measures and think about the safety of clients and their children at all times.

  3. Restrictive immigration policies in the U.S. often make women more vulnerable to trafficking situations and more afraid to notify local authorities.

How does IMUMI ensure that it is prepared to represent these cases?

IMUMI staff inlcudes a Mexican Family Law attorney and a U.S. Immigration Attorney who collaborate with trafficking survivors and their lawyers in the U.S. to develop a bi-national legal strategy for each case. In some cases, government agents from Mexico and the U.S. become involved to ensure the safety of the children we seek to re-unite with their mothers. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) also has a program that
assists with travel expenses. IMUMI participates in several national and international migration networks, receives and provides training to keep up to date on the issue of human trafficking in Mexico and the U.S.

What is the Institute for Women in Migration?

IMUMI is a Mexican NGO that advocates for women migrants and their families within the region of Mexico, the U.S. and Central America. We address issues important to migrant women through legal strategies, research, communication, and policy reform. IMUMI´s Legal Clinic represents over 200 women and their families with immigration humanitarian visas, custody issues and access to identity documents each year. Through the clinic, women trafficking survivors are assisted with issues of family re-unification.

IMUMI staff understands that migration and human trafficking are often linked. The women we represent often wished to migrate to the U.S. in
search of better opportunties for their children only to find themselves in a trafficking situation once arriving. They often lived in poverty, experienced violence and lack of educational opportunties, leaving them
vulnerable to false promises of work and love. IMUMI works to understand each person´s situation and believes that re-uniting children with their mothers is an important step to reparation of the harm that they experienced.




Good work.



Good luck Gretchen with the campaign! You do great work!



Apoyemos a IMUMI y a su labor comprometida







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