Founded in 2005, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) is the first transnational migrant workers’ rights organization based in Mexico. Since its founding, CDM has been driven by its mission to improve the conditions of low-wage workers in the United States.
While working as a farmworker attorney in rural Florida, Rachel Micah-Jones, CDM’s Founder and Executive Director, witnessed the abuses that migrants experience on the job and the powerful threats of retaliation that silence many workers. In the summer of 2004, Micah-Jones traveled to meet with some of her clients in their home community in rural Mexico. She had spoken with the same workers months earlier in a Florida labor camp where they were intimidated and mostly silent. But in Mexico, the workers poured out their stories of oppressive working conditions, waiting hours to speak with her in a darkening room. Realizing that workers are more willing and able to speak candidly about their experiences while in Mexico, Micah-Jones formed her idea for CDM: a binational migrant workers’ rights organization that would overcome the border as a barrier to justice.
On Labor Day 2005, supported with an Echoing Green Fellowship, grants from the Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale University and Stanford University’s Public Interest Law Foundation, and a small, but extraordinarily dedicated staff, CDM opened its doors in Zacatecas. Since then, CDM has met with more than 6,000 people in 23 states across Mexico to ensure that migrants know their rights before they cross the border. CDM has collaborated with workers and allies to recover more than five million dollars in unpaid wages and to establish important legal precedents and policies to protect migrants all along the migrant stream.
CDM’s binational, multilingual staff and geographic reach have grown in response to increasing needs for its advocacy and services. Today, with headquarters in Mexico City, two satellite offices in Juxtlhuaca, Oaxaca and Baltimore, Maryland, and advocates in Zacatecas, CDM has established itself as a powerful, transnational agent of change.