News / USA

Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guaranteesi
X
Ramon Taylor
July 18, 2014 8:55 PM
Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Ramon Taylor

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol - with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.

“On June 15th, we received a call that the body was found in the area of Patricia Perez in Nopal street in La Joya ... somewhere in the brush area,” said Jose Rodriguez, a law enforcement officer with the Hidalgo County Sheriff's office.

Jose Castellano, who found the Guatemalan boy's body, said, “We saw the horse jumping and everything, and kicking. I told my brother, why the horse is kicking and everything, and he said ‘I don’t know.’ So the first thing we do, we just got to the horse and then we saw the body...”

All too common

Castellano described seeing the body of Gilberto Ramos Juárez - an 11-year old undocumented immigrant from Guatemala - partially decomposed in the Texas summer heat.  

Gilberto's story is a common one - of migrants trying to escape the hardships of their countries to build a more stable future in the United States. He had hoped to find work so he could give his mother back home a better life.

Taking weeks, even months, the trek across the vast Mexican countryside and into the United States is extremely dangerous, and comes with high risk.

For those trying to reach the border towns in “el norte” - the North, as it is often called - extreme weather is only one hazard they are likely to encounter.

It's common for the so-called “coyotes" -  criminals who engage in human smuggling - to sexually assault, rob, or kidnap their clients - or force them to smuggle drugs for the Mexican cartels.

'Evil, wicked'

Carl Henderson, a former Border Patrol agent, said, “Some of them think they’re hiring a smuggler only to find out that they’re now being trafficked into sexual slavery or into work slavery on these marijuana farms for some of the drug cartels. These people that are smuggling you are some of the most evil, wicked people in Mexico, and probably in the world today. These are people who decapitate, maim and murder people by the thousands.”

Despite these dangers, the number of undocumented children and families crossing into the United States is on the rise. One federal agency (U.S. Executive Office for Immigration Review) has reported a backlog of more than 375,000 individual cases in 2014. Most of those are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - countries where gang and drug violence is on the rise. These issues, combined with a U.S. law designed to protect children at risk of sex trafficking, have contributed to the large influx.

One of the most popular entry points, and closest geographically to Central America, is in the Rio Grande Valley, where the number of migrant crossings in 2014 has tripled since 2010.

Violent crime

Many of them come out of fear.

Eddy, a Guatemalan immigrant, said, “Crime, drug trafficking, stolen children... you are always in fear that they [the "coyotes"] will enter and take your kids right out of school without any problems because of the lack of security. This is a fear we have every day.”

Alma, a Honduran immigrant, said, “I think that with less crime and more work, there wouldn’t be a need to move. We don’t move as much for economic reasons as much as crime, because even if the criminals don’t attack me, they will harm my family.”

For those who do make it across the desert, their fate may depend on whether Congress and the president can agree on how to handle the situation. Ultimately, they could be deported, so the dangerous journey could have been for nothing.

 

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bigrob from: Baltimore, MD
July 20, 2014 2:19 PM
YEAH RIGHT! Undocumented American's... Undocumented Immigrant's.. Undocumented Citizens. That's NOTHING BUT TOTAL BS!... They are Illegal Immigrant's and trying to change a word to make it seem like less an issue only goes to show it's a real issue... They are breaking the law and they should be sent back to where they came from AT THEIR EXPENSE!. SIMPLE!. They will stop trying to cross the border if they have to pay for getting back home every time. Or do jail time in their country because the US will bill Mexico for it if they can't pay. That's the one way it will send a message to not come here unless you do it the correct legal way!. We have enough free rider's here and we have no money left to spend.. Sorry but our border's are closed and it's time they start enforcing these law's!. Otherwise why not step up to the next level.. Unlicensed Pharmacist & House Call Charity Collector Agent's (The crook's break into you home and take what they want so they can eat and have some walking around money) Yea let's do that.. Because why not.. We are all about being PC right.. And not hurting anyone's feelings.. This country has turned into nothing but a joke!. And don't get me wrong I love my country but the people in charge are breaking this country into tiny bit's and flushing them down the crapper! We need to get rid of every single idiot in office and pull them out from under their feet and replace them with real people with real understanding and know's what it's like and care's about other's not how much money and power they can get while they are in office.... And their perk pack's... I am sick of this.. They need to flush 90% of the idiot's in office. There are a few in there that seem to have an idea of what need's to be done. But because 90% of them are idiot's 90% of the thing's that go on in this country will be STUPID!!!!.... So stop playing game's and adding to the BS that is already way past the breaking point and call them what they really are. CRIMINAL'S!!! THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW AND GETTING REWARDED FOR IT!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs