TAPACHULA, Mexico - Vice President Joe Biden was in Guatemala Friday, asking Central American leaders to help dispel the notion that illegal immigrants will be allowed to stay in the United States.
Most come from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and cross first into southern Mexico.
The Suchiate River along the Mexico-Guatemala border is the gateway north for many. By early morning, rafts start carrying people across.
Once on the Mexican side, they're a step closer to the U.S.
Enrique Pena left Honduras because of rampant gang violence. He's 15 and traveling on his own with nothing but clothes in a plastic bag. He hopes to get to his sister in Houston.
A better life and opportunity, he said.
There are no official numbers regarding how many have crossed illegally into Mexico so far this year. But migrant advocates told us it's clear there's a surge. They include people like Victor Sanchez and a group of women and children who traveled nearly 500 miles from Honduras.
They've heard a rumor that there's amnesty in the United States, he said.
The trip across can cost just a few dollars per person. Border control along the river is practically non-existent. We've been able to cross twice, no questions asked on either side.
When they reach Mexico, many immigrants board vans for the next stop, Tapachula, hoping to get into shelters.
Blanca Gutierrez is in one of six shelters in the city run by charities. She made the difficult decision of leaving two young children behind in Honduras to look for work in the United States.
She hopes her 4-year-old daughter will ensure their entry into the U.S.
Supposedly, they're letting people with children in, she said.
Back on the border, Enrique's trip stalled on the Guatemalan side.
He said he doesn't have enough money to cross on a raft.
On this day, the better life he seeks remains far away.