The migrants begin to shed all but their most prized possessions once they reach shore. Jonatan Cruz, 31, and his Guatemalan family drop their expired Mexican residency permits. Others have left sweatshirts, size 23 toddler shoes, Avon strawberry lip balm, disposable diapers, masks, Garanimals khakis (size 2T), a red Hello Kitty purse and a Texas flag backpack. When their wet jackets snag on trees, they slip them off and leave them suspended in the dark, like ghosts. They stumble forward without flashlights into the scrubby oak and sage. They clutch what they need most: valid identification and scraps of paper bearing the phone numbers of friends and family in the U.S. Youths traveling alone keep contact numbers tucked in their pockets, if not written on their chests by their parents before leaving home. A child’s jacket and pair of pants left on the banks of the Rio Grande by migrants.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times) Bessy Yamileth Gómez Flores carries a notebook scribbled with Matthew 21:22: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Another woman drops a pink pleather purse stuffed with a wad of wilted Honduran bills. Others carry their hopes.
Salvadoran Fatima Pineda Vasquez, 16, wants to be an architect. She has come with her 12-year-old nephew, who wants to be a surgeon. They plan to join his mother, Fatima’s older sister, in Missouri.