Crisis in Guatemala drives migrants to U.S. border

Credit: CBSNews
Credit: CBSNews

▶ Watch Video: Crisis in Guatemala drives migrants to U.S. border

The scramble continues to find places to house all of the unaccompanied minors who keep streaming across the U.S. southern border. A record 19,000 arrived in March. Thousands of more adults are also risking their lives to try to get in.

CBS News traveled to Central America to learn what’s driving the migration.

Campur, a town in Guatemala’s highlands, was devastated by flooding in the fall. Beverly Alvarado Cahuec showed CBS News what is left of her home.

“There’s nothing,” she said of her bedroom. “We threw everything away.” 

The entire village was underwater for weeks, hit by back-to-back hurricanes and displacing more than 300,000 Guatemalans. 

“I don’t know what to do,” Alvarado Cahuec said. 

As a mom, she said she’s hopeful that one day her son will be a professional, but the floods destroyed schools and ruined crops. The hit to agriculture took away how most people earn a living. 

Alvarado Cahuec said a lot of people she knows have left for the U.S. She knows that the U.S. border is closed but people are still willing to take a chance because, she said, there’s no future for them in Guatemala and they want better conditions for their children. 

So far this year more than 64,000 Guatemalans have been apprehended at the southwest border.

In Campur, Aurora Choc Coc, a single mother of three whose house was gutted, has made the decision to head to the U.S. An opportunity for work is all she’s asking for, she said. That means leaving behind her three sons, the youngest who is 2. 

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to come back one day and hug them,” she said. 

Her oldest son is processing the situation for the first time. He said he doesn’t have the words to describe how he feels. 

For now, the words between Alvarado Cahuec, who plans to stay in Guatemala, and Choc Coc are goodbye. Choc Coc plans to leave next week, a journey she believes could last a month as she heads to Houston, nearly 1,600 miles away. 

For those who remain, progress on rebuilding is slow and there are already concerns about the upcoming hurricane season. 


Hurricanes prompt migrants to flee Guatemala

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