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The U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in Central American migrants crossing into its territory, particularly children traveling without guardians.
A 14-year-old Guatemalan girl traveling alone waits for a northbound freight train along with other Central American migrants in Chiapas, Mexico, on June 19. The United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Central American migrants crossing into its territory, particularly children traveling without any adult guardian.
A young boy is hoisted to the top of a boxcar as Central Americans board a northbound freight train in Chiapas, Mexico, on June 19.
A woman is helped from one boxcar to another as Central American migrants wait atop the train they were riding north, hours after it suffered a minor derailment in a remote wooded area of Chiapas, Mexico, on June 20.
Central American migrants hang out around the northbound freight train they had been traveling on after it suffered a minor derailment in a remote wooded area of Chiapas on June 20. The train remained stuck for a day and a half, exposing the migrants to the possibility of attacks by criminal gangs. The Beta squad, a governmental group dedicated to the protection of migrants, brought water to the stranded travelers and offered medical care.
Cynthia Lemus, 12, waits with her family and other Central American migrants for the arrival of a northbound freight train in Chiapas on June 19. Cynthia's father, mechanic Natanael Lemus, explained that he wanted to leave San Salvador because extortion made it impossible to earn a living. "If you buy a car, they come to extort you. A machine for the workshop, they come to extort you. If they see you put on some nice pants or sneakers, they come to extort you," said Lemus. "You can't work like that. You go bankrupt."
A Honduran migrant traveling with her daughter crosses under barbed wire to return to the freight train they had been traveling on before it derailed in Chiapas on June 20. Migrants say that in addition to fleeing violence and extortion at home, they also decide to head north because they have heard that a change in U.S. law requires the Border Patrol to swiftly release children and their mothers and let them stay in the United States.
Guatemalan migrant Gladys Chinoy, 14, right, waits with more than 500 other migrants, many traveling with small children, beside the stuck freight train on which they were traveling on June 20. Gladys said she was more excited about seeing her mother in the U.S. than she was scared about the trip. Reached by phone in New York City, her mother said she was aware of the dangers but had finally decided they were worth it after five years apart. The mother said, "if she gets across, she can stay here, that's what you hear."
Young Central American migrants hang out on the train tracks as they await the arrival of a northbound freight train in Chiapas on June 18.
Central American migrants wait atop the freight train they had been traveling north on as it starts to rain after the train suffered a minor derailment outside Chiapas on June 20. Migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador travel north through Mexico by train, by foot, or if they can afford it, by bus. Along the way, they face attacks by criminal gangs and extortion by Mexican authorities.