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Families Divided

How one migrant family got caught between smugglers, the cartel and Trump's zero-tolerance policy

Carlos left Honduras with 6-year-old Heyli and a dream of lifting his family out of poverty, only to be caught in the web of a billion-dollar smuggling industry, then separated from his daughter for months. "Right now, the money's in the people," one smuggler says.

Heyli and her dad Carlos in their apartment in Los Angeles, California.

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 tips@texastribune.org.

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José, Carlos' father, is admitted into a private clinic after health complications. He says he does not work because he falls ill very frequently when he does and earning less than $10 dollars is not enough to afford his medication.
José, Carlos'­ father, is admitted into a private clinic after health complications. He says he does not work because he falls ill very frequently when he does and earning less than $10 dollars is not enough to pay for his medication. His daughter Lilian, who lives in Los Angeles, has been providing for them since she migrated to the U.S. 14 years ago.
Claudia poses for a photo outside of the house that she and her husband Carlos rented in Olancho, Honduras. Claudia says that after her husband and daughter left, she does not spend that much time at their house, preferring to spend time at her mother's home. They have to keep paying rent until the lease is up.
Children play near Carlos' family home in Olancho, Honduras.
View of a neighborhood near Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
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Honduran migrants walk through highway México 307 on Oct. 21 near Palenque, Chiapas. The highway is also known by the locals as “El gran corredor del pacífico del migrante,” or “The Great Pacific Corridor of the Migrant. This is a common route for Honduran migrants due to its proximity to their country.
Migrants cross the Usumacinta River between La Técnica, Guatemala and Frontera Corozal, Mexico on Oct. 21. The Usumacinta River acts as a border between the two countries. There is no immigration inspection in either of the two borders in the area. This is a common route for Honduran migrants.
Carlos' parents, Rosa, left and José, right, who live in Olancho, Honduras, take their daily medication for various illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid disease and high blood pressure. Their daughter Lilian, who migrated to Los Angeles, California 14 years ago, has been providing for them ever since.
Claudia and her family attend Sunday church in Olancho, Honduras. She says that listening to the Lordís word helps her deal with her current situation.
VerÛnica G. C·rdenas for The Texas Tribune
Claudia, right, and her mother, Suyapa, left, in their home in Olancho, Honduras.
Heyli plays with her cousin Walter at their shared apartment in Los Angeles, California.
Heyli cries before going to school because she did not get to say good-bye for the day to her dad before he went to work. Her aunt Lilian sometimes wakes her up before her dad leaves to work, they drop him off at his boss'­s house and then come back to sleep for a short while before she wakes up again to get ready to go to school. Heyli was separated from her dad for nearly two months after they sought asylum at the Texas border during the summer of 2018.
Heyli and her dad Carlos in their apartment in Los Angles.
Heyli, her dad Carlos and her cousin Walter play in a park near their apartment in Los Angeles, California. Besides dealing with separation anxiety due to the nearly two months that they were separated after seeking asylum at the border, she is getting used to her new life in the United States.

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