Migrants spend the day in a guesthouse in Altar, Sonora, the jumping-off point for most people crossing the Sonoran Desert into Arizona. When migrants come to Sonora, they usually spend a few nights in a guesthouse while they arrange their trip or wait for it to begin. Sometimes the migrants are not allowed to leave the guesthouse until their treks north begin.
A migrant waits in a small guesthouse in Altar. Patience is key. Sometimes migrants have to wait days to find the right guide and for the conditions to be good to cross.
Marcos Burruel interviews people at the only free shelter in Altar. He says that many of the people who come to the shelter aren't really in need—or aren't really migrants—and he must decide whether they are allowed to stay.
Migrants while away the day in one of the guesthouses in Altar.
A migrant kneels and prays to Jesus and Our Lady of Guadalupe before embarking on his journey north. Migrants often come to pray in this room. They touch Jesus' feet and then rub their hands over their legs to give them strength and luck to make it to the United States.
A migrant prays in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Altar before beginning his journey through the desert and into Arizona. Migrants must survive bandits and drug dealers as well as the harsh desert environment.
A view of the desert just outside Altar.
Alfredo Juarez sits in the central plaza in Altar as he tries to arrange a trip back to his home in Veracruz state. Alfredo recently tried to cross the desert into the United States, but he was caught and deported by the Border Patrol. He will now go home before trying again in about a month.
Migrants in Altar often use public telephones to arrange transportation to the United States.
Recently deported migrants in the plaza in Altar as they contemplate another trip to the United States.
One of a handful of stores in Altar that sell items migrants need for the desert crossing: backpacks, matches, boots, electrolyte-infused drinks, and canned goods.
The guesthouses in Altar are bare-bones, to say the least.
Migrants board a van that will take them down the 'route of death' from Altar, Sonora, to Sasabe, Sonora. They will need to pay a tax to the narcos before continuing on to the border.
Migrants in the van that will take them from Altar to Sasabe.
A group of migrants are stopped and searched by the Mexican army near Sasabe.
A group of migrants just before they begin their desert crossing.
A group of migrants ride in the back of a truck near Sasabe.
A portion of the U.S. border fence near Sasabe.
A recently returned migrant sits under a tree in the desert near Sasabe. He said he was separated form his guide, and instead of trying to continue the trip alone, he returned to Mexico.
A member of Grupos Beta, a Mexican government organization that aids migrants, helps a young man find a friend who got lost as they tried to return to Mexico after being separated from their guide.
A member of Grupos Beta helps a young man who became separated from his guide.
A group of migrants wait to be registered at Casa Juan Bosco, a shelter for migrants in Nogales, Sonora. The majority of migrants caught by the U.S. Border Patrol in the desert are deported or repatriated to Nogales. They arrive with no money and often stay in shelters until they gather the funds to return to their homes or attempt another crossing.
A group of migrants wait to be registered at Casa Juan Bosco.
A view of Nogales.
A group of migrants is taken to Casa Juan Bosco in Nogales.