MSI has been implementing this initiative since May 2006. The Trafficking in Persons Shelter Project is executed under the Capable Partners Program in cooperation with the Academy for Educational Development; the project to Combat Trafficking in Persons under the President's Initiative is funded by the United States Agency for International Development's office in Mexico.
Mexico, is a country or origin, transit and destination of trafficked victims from neighboring Central American countries, and also experiences significant migratory flows from other regions of the world, in search of an entry to the United States. Many vulnerable migrants from South America and distant countries, such as China and Africa, have been found in exploitative conditions. It is estimated that there are a large number of victims in Mexico, the precise quantitative extent of the problem has not yet been determined because of the clandestine nature of these crimes. However, it is clear the services available to trafficked victims do not meet their needs.
The project team is composed of two Mexican lawyers and local consultants located in Mexico city, supported by a technical advisor and a project manager from MSI in Washington DC.
In Mexico the project has been named "PROTEJA", which in Spanish means "protect". The principal aim of this project is the improvement of the quality of integral assistance available to trafficked victims, mostly women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation. PROTEJA supports the improvement of existing or new shelters to ensure a holistic approach to provide medical, legal, psychological and vocational assistance to care for Trafficking in Persons victims. The team delivers technical assistance by establishing alliances between service providers, nongovernmental organizations and the Mexican government; fostering awareness and building capacity amongst shelters, grassroots communities and key decision-making officials, and promoting the need to adopt anti-trafficking legislation. In order to develop these activities, the team travels often to the five states chosen to implement the project: Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Jalisco. Several training sessions have been developed to raise awareness on the need to adopt anti-trafficking legislation, which Mexico lacks so far at the national and state levels. Despite a variety of legal, political and institutional challenges, the PROTEJA team developed a Baseline Survey on the existing services in the five states, and has started a network directory of numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations that will facilitate the creation of a National Network of Trafficking in Persons Shelters.