A few days later, the caravan crossed the border to Guatemala, where the Yanes family hitched rides from passing vehicles. When they reached the Guatemala-Mexico border, the Guatemalan and Mexican police let them through to Chiapas. Throughout the trip, they relied on charity from local residents and priests. In some towns, people offered them tortillas, bread, snacks, and bottled water. In others, residents glared and slammed their doors. On those days, the Yaneses went hungry.
Their caravan did not take the shorter, northeastern route to Texas, which crosses precarious, crime-ridden Mexican states. It took the longer but safer northwestern route to reach Tijuana, which has more shelters and nonprofit volunteers than any other border city and is adjacent to California, a “sanctuary state.”
The Tijuana the Yanes family entered on Nov. 27 was a city already buckling under the burdens of housing thousands of migrants like the Yaneses. Ezequiel said she assumed when they reached Tijuana they’d breeze right through, just as they did at other border cities. Instead, “everything came to a halt,” Ezequiel said with a despondent smile: “I’m disillusioned.”
Mexican officials put the migrants in an open-air sports complex close to the border, but rain created muddy swamps. Just after Thanksgiving, hundreds of frustrated people rushed the border, inciting Border Patrol guards to release tear gas. Officials then moved many migrants to a vacant nightclub 10 miles away from the border, but the Yanes family stayed behind in another shelter closer to the border, as did many others who refused to lose sight of their destination.