As yet another cargo train thunders past her house in Fortín de las Flores, Mexico, Benita Juárez wraps a scarf around her head and looks up. In addition to its usual load of sugar cane, coffee and automobiles, the train carries migrants traveling north from Central America. As the train passes, Juárez, 84, glimpses the migrants who huddle in the wells at the back of the cars, ride on top, or cling to the sides of the train.
She sees pregnant women, women nursing babies, and children younger than her youngest grandchild. She sees people whose lips are parched and cracked from lack of water, and people who are poorly dressed for a trip that will take them into the Eje Volcánico Transversal Mountains, where the nights will be bitter cold. She sees people who have been beaten, robbed and raped. Hundreds of thousands of economic refugees have passed through Fortín de las Flores.