A tale of two 26-year-olds: 1 problem, 2 solutions - Tucson News Now

A tale of two 26-year-olds: 1 problem, 2 solutions

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    Friday, August 29 2014 1:33 AM EDT2014-08-29 05:33:20 GMT
    Follow the events of J.D. Wallace's trip to Guatemala as they unfolded.  See the country as he gathered the stories he reported.

    Follow the events of J.D. Wallace's trip to Guatemala as they unfolded.  See the country as he gathered the stories he reported.


TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

From the thousands of children who risked their lives to come to the United States, to the groups of people found in the desert, the determination of those who risk it all to cross our border and start lives here at whatever cost has been obvious for months and even years.

It's the American dream for some. But others in Central America now say it's time to fix the problem by creating opportunity at home.

Take the drive of one man willing to repeatedly make the dangerous journey here and put it against the determination of another to stay and make it in Central America, and you get an idea of the conflict many must feel as they decide whether or not to come north. Some of these reasons might seem different from what you've heard here.

Just outside Antigua, Guatemala, Antonio Sanchez builds a bamboo gate where he teaches others how to care for and live off the land in an organization named SERES.

"I've seen people who now have a dream, they have something they want to achieve, and now they know that going to the U.S. Is not the way to achieve those dreams,” Sanchez said in Spanish.

"In Honduras, you just work and work and work and you get paid, but only for the food,” said a man staying in Guatemala City, on his way to the United States.

The man, who is the same age as Sanchez, is making his way from Honduras to the United States for his fifth time. He agrees to speak with the agreement his identity will be concealed. He's trying to get to his mother and other family in Atlanta, as well as return to what he considers to be a much better life in the United States than he has in Honduras.

"Just enough money to eat but that's it. Not enough to buy shoes, or clothes, or if you want to have a car. Nothing. It's hard,” the man said.

The pressure for immigration solutions is felt even in Guatemala, but on a different frontline from what we see along our border. Some in Guatemala say that attitudes are changing. While Casa Migrante is set up to shelter migrants moving across Guatemala, SERES aims to help Guatemalans and El Salvadorans stay here by choice. That relies on new decisions by young leaders. Sanchez has seven of nine siblings in the United States. But he's not going.

"I realized as a young person I was part of what as going on with the world. So I asked myself, what are we doing as youth, where are we putting our energy? Where are we putting our power and our knowledge?" Sanchez said.

For thousands of others, the only place to put their energy is what they've seen all their lives: getting into the United States.

"Because I know I won't be in Honduras anymore. In Honduras, it's more dangers than in being over there,” the man from Honduras said.

The trip to the United States from Central America takes two to three weeks for some. Many go into thousands of dollars of debt to do so, and if they have to return to their home country, they're worse off than when they left. So they try again to come here.

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