The children travel on foot across the border, by plane, or as stowaways on freighters. One orphaned boy from Ethiopia made his way—with the help of smugglers—through South Africa, to Brazil, and up to Mexico, where he was caught crossing the Rio Grande. His journey took eight months.
Over the course of three months, a girl from China was flown all over the world in order to be delivered to the United States. Snakeheads transported the 16-year-old girl from China to Hong Kong, from there to Russia, and then to Cuba. She was then flown to Mexico where she caught a flight to Guatemala and was instructed to walk through customs. She did as she was told, and when she exited the terminal, there was a man waiting for her with her name on a placard and an identification document with her photo. She was then smuggled overland and across Mexico where she walked across the border and was soon apprehended.
Most children are apprehended by immigration officials at the US-Mexico border, but some children are apprehended internally. They’re placed in one of about sixty facilities scattered across the country—some for only a month, others for more than a year. All of them are placed in removal proceedings before US Immigration Courts and are required to find their own lawyers, appear in court, with or without an attorney, and navigate the complex US immigration system.