The Trail of Latino Migration: Heading North

Risking Their Lives to Make the Journey to the U.S.

Angel Sandiero

Angel Sandiero, a farmer from Honduras, lost three fingers and was paralyzed from the waist down when he fell from a moving train that he had jumped in hopes of moving north towards the United States. Gerry Hadden, NPR News hide caption

itoggle caption Gerry Hadden, NPR News
A poleman has a laugh.

A poleman has a laugh as he bumps another raft on the muddy Suchiate River between Guatemala and Mexico. Each year several people are killed here in disputes over contraband. Gerry Hadden, NPR News hide caption

itoggle caption Gerry Hadden, NPR News

Migrants from Central America say they will take almost any risk to make their way to the United States for new lives and jobs. In some cases, people jeopardize life and limb to hop aboard a moving freight train. In the second part of a series, NPR's Gerry Hadden reports on the dangers faced by northbound Latino migrants. See photos from the way stations and crossing points along the way.

"We're on the same mission, searching for the American Dream, as they say. We want a better life for ourselves and for the families we've left behind," says Rudolpho, a 36-year-old Salvadoran migrant interviewed along the banks of the Suchiate River, which separates Guatemala from Mexico. Thousands make the crossing there every day.

The migrants often are robbed of what little cash they're carrying. Too far from home to turn back, they jump on a train, but fall or are thrown off. Alma Belinda Cruz, a 30-year-old woman from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was one such victim.

One February night, Cruz sprang from the bushes along with dozens of other migrants, threw herself at a train's ladder, and lost her balance. She failed to get a good grip and was pulled under by the train's wheels. "Thanks to God I was able to get out from under it," she says. "I began to scream for help. Three other migrants pulled me to the side, and began giving me first aid." The train pinched off both of Cruz's legs at mid thigh.

On Wednesday's Morning Edition, Hadden concludes the series with a report on the record number of deaths this year of people crossing into the Arizona desert.

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