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Families Divided

Asylum-seekers say they cross the border illegally because they don’t think they have other options

Asylum-seekers start on the path to an illegal crossing long before they actually reach the banks of the Rio Grande, relying on advice from an informal network of well-meaning friends and often-unscrupulous smugglers.

Border Patrol agent Robert Rodríguez, 38, oversees a common landing area for people crossing the Rio Grande River.

Families Divided

The Trump administration's “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which led to the separation of children from adults who crossed the border illegally, has fueled a national outcry. Sign up for our ongoing coverage. Send story ideas to

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Kevin and his mother Claudia.
A raft loaded with undocumented immigrants navigates the Mexican side of the Rio Grande across from Ruperto Escobar's ranch in April 2016. The ranch sits along the Rio Grande, the international boundary between the U.S. and Mexico, in Starr County in South Texas. For generations smugglers have used the ranch to move people and product across the border, and Escobar doesn't see that changing anytime soon.
José, 35 and his sons Dariel, 10 and Ezequiel, 7, from Honduras, get ready to be processed after waiting to seek asylum on the Mexico side of the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas, for three days.

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Immigration Border