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Altar, Sonora: A Dangerous Crossing

After leaving Altar, migrants face a variety of threats, like drug cartels, bandits, the environment and US Border Patrol. They often get lost or disoriented in the desert and depend on the Border Patrol, or Mexico's Grupo Beta, to find them and save them from dehydration or hypothermia. The ones who are picked up by the border patrol are usually deported or repatriated to Nogales, Sonora, where they will rest up and prepare for their next attempt at crossing.

David Rochkind / Pulitzer Center

Life of a Migrant in Altar, Sonora

Migrants flood into Altar, Sonora before making the dangerous journey across the Sonoran Desert and into the United States. They often pass through here after being deported from the US, as they try to get back home or to organize another crossing.

Drug Cartels Imperil Immigrants in the Desert

See Related Slideshow by David Rochkind on the Los Angeles Times site.

Reporting from Altar, Mexico — On a cloudless afternoon in northern Sonora, migrants and drug runners lounge in equal numbers under scattered mesquite trees, playing cards or sipping water. The sun climbs high and the temperature rises well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In such heat, nothing, human or otherwise, moves more than required.

Jon Sawyer Q and A with Online Journalism Review

David Westphal, Online Journalism Review

What are the two new qualities that journalists of the future must embody? They must be entrepreneurial and they must be multimedia. These are precisely the qualities that animate the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Almost five years ago now, my wife (Geneva Overholser) and I sat in Jon Sawyer's living room in Washington, D.C., and listened to him spin out what sounded like an improbable tale. He wanted to set up a nonprofit center on foreign reporting, and he wanted a philanthropist to bankroll it.

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