Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Journey North

TAPACHULA, Chiapas– We arrived here last week to report and photograph a story on Mexico's immigration laws on its southern border. While the Mexican government is fighting for immigration reform for migrants crossing to the U.S., the Central Americans trying to cross through Mexico are also facing horrible conditions that have not improved much over the years. Crossing the actual river is the easy part, but waiting for them on the other side are Mexican authorities who have been known to rape and steal from the migrants as soon as they cross. Many Central Americans hop on freight trains heading north, but along the way they face the dangers of encountering gangs, such as the Maras, as well as possibly falling off the train. The train has left too many migrants injured or limbless.

We met Jose at an immigrant shelter last week and his story has really impacted me. He's a 24-year-old El Salvadorian, and all he was carrying with him on his journey- that will hopefully end in Houston- was one small bag with a change of clothes and deodorant. As soon as he reached Mexico, officials stole all his money. He had made the trip several times before and has been successful in reaching the U.S. But he has always gotten detained or deported, never giving him a chance to work and send money to his family.

But as Jose told us his story, his demeanor changed when I began asking him about his family and children. He has a little girl and a baby boy. He began telling me this story about how his son, who is chubbier than his daughter, likes to bully her with his belly and knock her down. My mind trailed off toward the end of his story because I was so fascinated by how his face and eyes changed when he talked about them. After all, it was for them that he was making the journey north.

May the Virgen guide you and give you strength. To check out Jeremy's story and my photos (which made the front page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution! yeah!), click on the blog title "Journey North."

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