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BORDER CRISIS: The Journey North To The US

A look at human smuggling in Mexico.
The first plane full of undocumented immigrants --- 40 mothers and children--- touched down in Honduras early this morning.

It was the the first of dozens of flights US Immigration officials have chartered in the coming weeks, delivering deportees back to Honduras and also El Salvador, Guatemala and other parts of Latin America.

Most undocumented immigrants from Central and South American countries travel north through Mexico to cross the American border.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is following their path looking at the human smuggling pipeline at work in Mexico and meeting with those who are making this long, expensive and dangerous journey north.

This is the Southern Mexico border city, people that want to cross it going from Guatemala to Mexico is easy. This is where the serious business starts. Illegal immigration business is very open.

Look at this explicit sign, it says in Spanish. Welcome to the Coyote Pass. The human smugglers, this is where people come to find human smugglers to get to the United States border.

There are people up there, when we looked at them, they saw we had cameras, many of them scattered.

Passenger vans that snake through the border areas are all part of the equation.

These vans are often very crowded as this one is, also very hot, no air conditioning.

Mostly commuters going about an hour drive to the southern portion of Mexico.

Often undocumented migrants are on this bus so they can get services, food, medical care while they plan their journeys up north. Often, undocumented migrants have no money and can't afford these vans. They have to figure out how to start their journey. We found a man who wants to get to the United States, but didn't have enough money to get on this van. This is Luis Moreno, he doesn't speak any English, but we've been talking to him a little bit. This is a man from Guatemala, he's here in Mexico right now, he wants to go to the United States, and as a matter of fact he's been there. And he's been caught three times by authorities and sent back to Guatemala, also very interesting about Luis, he's been caught five times here in the nation of Mexico.

Not in the border, but other cities, four of times he was on the beast, a train where so many people get hurt. He was riding on top of the train, tied down so he wouldn't fall off. In eight times he's been sent back to Guatemala, he still says he's ready to go back.

Translator: I want to go to the U.S. And work and help out my family. I can't do it where i'm from.

Reporter: One of the places migrants come to for medical help is this Catholic Church and Clinic. This is when you're seriously hurt or sick, for example, this man right here, you can see his foot. He was in the United States, got kicked out, came back to Mexico and got hit by a car while crossing, really messed up his ankle. He wants to still go back to the United States but won't be able to walk for a couple weeks.

This baby was born here, six days ago, and this woman right here, this is Malitza -- she's 20 years old, she is the sister of the baby. And this is her daughter. Her mother's here too. Her mother gave birth to the baby. They came from Honduras, they hope to get to the United States some day. They hope to get food for the baby just born.

The journey to the United States is long and dangerous. Success is anything but assured.
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