proceed somewhere despite the risk of possible dangers
She left them there when she
ventured north as a single mother to work in the United States.
assign to a lower position
Or I could stay by my children’s side,
relegating another generation to the same misery and poverty I knew so well.
a state in which all hope is lost or absent
What kind of
desperation, I wondered, pushes children as young as seven years old to set out, alone, through such a hostile landscape with nothing but their wits?
found in the ordinary course of events
We kept the windows closed so neighbors could not hear any discussion that strayed from the
mundane into anything vaguely political.
journey across or pass over
To follow Enrique’s journey, I
traversed thirteen of Mexico’s thirty-one states.
traveler who moves from one region or country to another
Until my journey with
migrant children, I had no true understanding of what people are willing to do to get here.
firmness of purpose
With each step north, I became awed by the gritty
determination these children possess in their struggle to get here.
face and withstand with courage
They are willing to
endure misery and dangers for months on end.
the trait of being firm in purpose or belief
They come armed with their faith, a
resolve not to return to Central America defeated, and a deep desire to be at their mothers’ sides.
recovery or preservation from loss or danger
Although in the United States the women struggle to pay rent and eat, in the imaginations of their children back home they become
deliverance itself, the answer to every problem.
shower with love; show excessive affection for
Enrique clings to his daddy, who
dotes on him.
move sideways or in an unsteady way
careen off the road.
having a clear mind
lucid enough to tell Belky that he knows what he has to do: he has to go find his mother.
place under suspicion or cast doubt upon
Worse, he is
sullying the only thing her family owns: its good name.
rescuing or protecting someone or something from harm
But Enrique fears he will end up on the streets or dead. Only his mother can help him. She is his
producing no result or effect
Giving Enrique clothing will be
futile, Carrasco thinks, if he can’t find someone with a car who can get the boy to medical help.
destroy or injure severely
The migrants most badly
mangled by the train run up bills of $1,000 to $1,500 each when they end up at a public hospital one and a half hours away.
dishonest or immoral or evasive
Enrique has already had other run-ins with
corrupt Mexican cops.
obtain by coercion or intimidation
Four of five migrants who arrive at the Albergue Belen shelter in Tapachula have already been robbed, beaten, or
extorted by police, says the shelter priest, Flor Maria Rigoni.
young and inexperienced
Six months ago, the first time he set out to find her, he was still a
fraught with danger
Now he is a veteran of a
perilous pilgrimage by children, many of whom come looking for their mothers and travel any way they can.
a large burial chamber, usually above ground
After a day and twelve miles, police caught him sleeping on top of a
mausoleum in a graveyard near the depot in Tapachula, Mexico...
a transverse and enclosed drain under a road or railway
He has slept on the ground; in a sewage
culvert, curled up with other migrants; on top of gravestones.
show submission or fear
Once he was deported at 2 A.M. and spent the night
cowering, sleepless, near the border guard station, afraid for his life.
an outlaw who is (usually) a member of a group
Arriaga’s Red Cross workers retrieve, on average, ten migrants per month who have fallen or been beaten up by
bandits or gangsters.
Already, Enrique has four jagged scars on his shins from
frenzied efforts to board trains.
shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception
Enrique guesses there are more than two hundred migrants on board, a tiny army of them who charged out of the cemetery with nothing but their
form a thick or hard area of skin from pressure or friction
His hands would turn numb and
callous after hours of hanging on.
run off or leave the tracks
Enrique was once on a train that
a loud, harsh, or strident noise
Migrants at the front of the train, nearest to the locomotive, call back a warning over the train’s deafening
escape, either physically or mentally
Of the half-dozen checkpoints Enrique has
eluded in southern Mexico, he fears La Arrocera most.
attack and bombard with or as if with missiles
As he runs, three agents follow on the ground,
pelting him with rocks and sticks, an experience many migrants say they have here.
a large knife used as a weapon or for cutting vegetation
In the scrub brush, though, Enrique worries less about agents than about madrinas with
having or covered with protective points, spines, or thorns
He crawls under a barbed-wire fence, then under a double strand of smooth wire.
express opposition through action or words
resist are beaten or killed.
harass with persistent criticism or carping
Boys like Enrique are called “stinking undocumented.” They are cursed,
taunted. Dogs are set upon them. Barefoot children throw rocks at them.
a bandage that stops the flow of blood by applying pressure
The medics applied two
devote oneself entirely to something
She is impatient with those who
wallow in pity.
use of physical or mental energy; hard work
She thanks God for giving her strength to get through the day’s
urgently needed; absolutely necessary
Blending in is
critical. Migrants clip labels off clothes from Central America. Some buy Mexican clothes or ones sporting the name of a Mexican soccer team.