In the Mexican border town of Tijuana, Edwin Salgado sat on a folding chair cracking jokes with fellow U.S. military veterans on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-April. Salgado, 35, had just returned from a Mexican government office where he had helped one of the newest arrivals at this border shelter known as “the Bunker”.

In March of last year, Alba Luz Maldonado Paz left her Honduras town in search of a better life. The 36-year-old woman said she left her country due to a lack of economic opportunities and physical danger. She was terrified, she explains, when members of an international criminal gang, La Mara 18, threatened to kill her.