Adonias, 13, works selling garlic at the largest market in Guatemala City “El Mercado Terminal.”

Romina Alonso Lorenzo, 12, and other family members at her aunt’s home in Concepcion Chiquirichapa in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. She has three sisters, one of whom who is 14 and has recently migrated to the United States where she works to help support her family. Romina and her  two other sisters hope to migrate to the United States as soon as they can.

Paula does not go to school and instead works washing clothing with her female family members in the town of Los Duraznales in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

A child and her little brother gather recyclable materials by the side of the road in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

A bus in Los Duraznales, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

Miriam Gonzalez Ramirez and her baby Carlos Jair Gonzalez Ramirez from Honduras travel through a ranch after crossing the Guatemala/Mexico border.

July Elizabeth Pérez, 32, with one of her daughters, three year old Kimberly Julieth Medina, and her only living son, six year old Luis Danny Pérez, at the Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec, Mexico. Pérez and her family were forced to flee Honduras after her 14-year-old son Anthony Jalibeth Pacheco was murdered by gangs last year.

Willmer Villatoro, 16 and his brother Alexis Villatoro, 18, at the Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec, Mexico. They fled gangs in El Salvador after Willmer was shot for not joining.

Isaura Ortega and her baby at Cafemin migrant shelter in Mexico City. Her family fled violence in Guatemala City.

The Alonso Lorenzo sisters (L to R) Romina, 12, Alysa Karina, 16, and Isabel, 8 at their aunt’s home in Concepcion Chiquirichapa in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. The sisters are orphans and their fourteen year old sister recently migrated to the United States where she works to help support all three of them. They currently live with their aunt in a cramped two room home, and all three of the sisters hope to migrate to the United States as soon as they can.

Migrants take off heading North in Chahuites, Mexico, one of the most dangerous areas along the southern migrant trail. The trains in the area are recently highly monitored by officials and  migrants forced to walk hundreds of kilometers through the woods where they are preyed on by criminals.

Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec, Mexico.

Siblings six year old Luis Danny Pérez, twelve year old Naamá Pérez and three year old Kimberly Julieth Medina, play cards with another child fleeing violence, Anthony Douglas Ponce Barahona, in the women’s dormitory at the Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec, Mexico.

Central American migrant shelter “Los 72” in Tenosique, Mexico.

Central American migrant shelter “Los 72” in Tenosique, Mexico. Darling Jimenez, 2 years old. The Maras in Ceiba, Honduras, killed her father and the family fled.

Three year old Kimberly Julieth Medina plays with her mother’s iPhone outside the women’s dormitory at the Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec, Mexico. PŽrez and her family were forced to flee Honduras after her 14-year-old brother Anthony Jalibeth Pacheco was murdered by gangs last year.

Morning at the Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec, Mexico.

Morning at the Centro de Ayuda Humanitarian migrant shelter in Chahuites, Mexico, one of the most dangerous areas along the southern migrant trail, with migrants forced to walk hundreds of kilometers through the woods and risk assault as the trains in the area are highly monitored by officials.

Migrants have breakfast by the train in Ciudad Ixtepec, Mexico

Central American migrant shelter “Los 72” in Tenosique, Mexico.

Central American migrant shelter “Los 72” in Tenosique, Mexico.

Six year old Luis Danny Pérez at the Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec, Mexico. Pérez and his family were forced to flee Honduras after his 14-year-old brother Anthony Jalibeth Pacheco was murdered by gangs last year.

Children Do Not Migrate, They Flee. by Katie Orlinsky

When a massive influx of Central American children streamed across the U.S.-Mexican border last year, it sparked a political crisis, and a heated debate about the causes of this “surge.” U.S. politicians argued that the children were coming merely for economic reasons (that is, simply to take American jobs), rather than face the complicated reality that we have a refugee crisis on our very own doorstep. Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have the highest homicide rates in the world. Central American children are the victims of life-threatening war, gang violence and poverty on a daily basis. The journey through Mexico to the “safety” of the United States is rife with dangers like kidnapping, rape and robbery, often times deadly, and controlled by criminals and gangs. Central American children and families have no other choice. As an official running a child migrant shelter in Guatemala said, “children do not migrate, they flee.” Currently, there is a massive U.S.-funded crackdown by Mexican authorities against Central American migrants, yet it has done little to stem the flow of migrants to the U.S., succeeding only in making the journey more lucrative for smugglers and more dangerous for migrants than ever before.

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