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Families Divided

Border Hustle: Smugglers, cartels and the U.S. detention industry are making billions off of desperate migrants

Follow two Honduran migrants as their journey to the U.S. for a better life leads them into a giant border hustle where coyotes, cartels and corporations make big bucks off desperate people.

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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Carlos and his 6-year-old daughter, Heyli, traveled nearly 1,700 miles together from Honduras to reach the U.S. border — and what they hoped would be the start of a new, better life — only to be separated by more than 1,200 miles shortly after they surrendered to Border Patrol agents and requested asylum. Along the way, they became small players in a shadowy, multibillion-dollar global enterprise: the smuggling of human beings for profit.

In this documentary, The Texas Tribune and TIME traced their journey and investigated the booming smuggling industry that has thrived as the U.S. government seeks to close America's southern border and as record numbers of migrant families make the long trek north.

You can read the full story about Carlos and Heyli here.

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