Juarez, Mexico — A Guatemalan boy, about six, enters a vast unknown, crossing alone into the United States. After he passes the wall, he breaks into a run.
He is one of many children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, where the Biden administration has allowedand some families with children under seven to stay as their cases pend. Most others apprehended at the border are being deported from the U.S.
While some have called this a crisis at the border, the migrants who spoke with CBS News said the crisis is in their home countries, where the pandemic and natural disasters have worsened violence and poverty.
Before crossing with women who were helping her along the journey from Guatemala, 16-year-old Isabel said her parents back home were too sick to work. She said she was looking for work for her family.
Many along this stretch of the border near Juarez were looking to turn themselves in to border patrol, while others have hired smugglers to try to evade agents. One smuggler spoke with CBS News on condition of anonymity. Even with the risk of being deported, they still want to try.
Family members in the U.S. tell them to keep trying, he said. His operation includes ladders to scale the wall, with peep holes to watch for border patrol — about $1,000 a try.
In six months, he said 80 to 100 people have paid him to cross the border.
Still, others wait. Alex Ajin Tecum, 14, has been waiting in Juarez with his mother Irma for a year and three months, hoping for an asylum hearing under the Trump administration's now-defunct "Remain in Mexico" policy.
They said they left Guatemala due to threats. Alex knows he could try passing on his own, but he won't. He said he doesn't want to separate from his mother.
They're all they have right now, they say. So for now, they wait.