Poverty, crime, and violence are just some of the reasons thousands of Guatemalans are fleeing the country every month, hoping to make it across the U.S.'s southern border. With extreme weather causing catastrophic flooding and other destruction, climate change is also increasingly motivating people to leave.
More than 64,000 Guatemalans have been apprehended at the southern border this fiscal year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said, including thousands of unaccompanied minors. CBS News' Manuel Bojorquez traveled to the village of Campur, Guatemala, to talk to people who have friends, relatives, and acquaintances who left for the U.S. — as well as others who plan on making the trek north themselves.
Last fall, back-to-back Hurricanes Eta and Iota battered Campur, leaving the village underwater for several weeks and displacing more than 300,000 Guatemalans. Flooding destroyed homes, schools, and crops, an especially painful result for a town where most residents work in agriculture. Beverly Alvarado Cahuec told Bojorquez that everything in her home was destroyed by the flooding, and she is concerned by the slow rebuilding efforts.
While Alvarado Cahuec plans on staying in Campur, she knows at least six people who have left for the U.S. in recent weeks. They are aware the border is closed, Alvarado Cahuec said, but take the risk knowing that there are opportunities available in the U.S. and nothing left for them in Campur.
One woman who plans on heading to the U.S. next week is Aurora Choc Coc, a single mom of three. She told Bojorquez the flooding left her home gutted, and she hopes to find work in Houston. Her youngest child is 2, but in order for her to search for employment, her kids have to stay in Campur. "I don't know if I'll be able to come back one day and hug them," Choc Coc said through tears. Her oldest son, listening to her conversation with Bojorquez, also began to cry. Catherine Garcia