Many of the migrants found in that hot trailer outside a San Antonio Walmart were at the end of a long journey that went through Laredo, Texas. It’s a place that is as much a hub for smuggling as it is business and trade.
Laredo is home to some 200,000 people. But for so many others, it’s far from home and merely a stop in a long arduous journey.
Carlos, who’s 46, says it took him 2.5 months to travel from Sabacolon, Honduras to Laredo. He left behind his girlfriend and three teenage children.
He says it wasn’t easy.
“Everything you’re doing is for them; for your family and children,” he said.
He’s seeking hope for a better life. It’s what he endured on the journey that gives him reason to be thankful, to have survived a dangerous trek aboard a train through Mexico.
He was even attacked at one point, left bloody with a serious head wound before he leapt into the Rio Grande River in a desperate attempt to escape and cross into the U.S.
Mike Smith heads up the Holding Institute, one of many non-profits that assist migrants who’ve arrived in Laredo with food, water, and clothing.
“We have a responsibility to help our neighbor, whoever he or she is, at whatever time,” Smith said.
The Holding Institute even works with Mexico to advise against taking the risk. But so many are determined to reach the U.S. and by any means, whether sneaking on a train or hurling into a semi-trailer on a smuggler’s promise of safe travel.
“This is a constant struggle,” Smith said.
It’s a struggle that Carlos represents. He says that he’s a man of faith and that every new day is a miracle.
For many, Laredo is a place at the crossroads of business and humanity. And for some, life and death.