October 3, 2018

Dangerous Decisions: Crossing the Border from Guatemala

It’s midnight and you’ve finally made it to the U.S. border. After a month of traveling with just the clothes on your back, your smuggler says you’re one days walk from a new life in the U.S. He then threatens to leave you here to die in the desert unless you pay an additional $3,000 USD. An unimaginable amount that was never agreed upon. This is the situation our friend Pedro found himself in late last year.

We love Peña Blanca, and Guatemala as a whole, but there’s no hiding from the country’s poverty and inequality. Families all across the country are struggling to find jobs and even stay safe from the ever growing gang violence.

New data from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reveals that Guatemalans make up the largest share of migrants who were apprehended or sought asylum. This year to date, about 42,757 Guatemalan migrants were apprehended by Border Patrol.

Pedro, one of our longtime friends from Peña Blanca, hasn’t been able to find a stable job for years. He was just making enough as a part time farmer to put food on the table, but when his youngest daughter became sick, he decided to try to go north. To navigate the month long journey, he paid for a smuggler $6,000 to take him. Like many others, he took out a bank loan for the money, by putting up his house as collateral. When his smuggler left him, he was found by border security and deported back to Guatemala. His debt remains. 

Pedro’s story is just one of thousands that show what can happen when an attempted border crossing goes wrong. The New York Times further details the stories of migrants who drowned crossing the Rio Grande, were left in the desert for failing to keep up with their group, or, for some like Pedro, rescued from the brink of death by border patrol agents.

Learn More

The immigration landscape is constantly evolving. Here are some recent sources we’ve been following:

How You Can Help

There are many organizations providing aid along the border to migrant families. Here are some to check out:

  • Humane Borders – provides water to migrants crossing the border
  • Border Angels – provides legal services and material support for migrants crossing the border

We are so grateful that, because of your support, we are able to create videos like this one as part of our new Ask Why series. To continue to support our filmmaking and impact campaigns, you can donate directly to Living on One.