Collage by Luis Luna (Photos by Yurema-Pérez Hinojosa and Julieta Martinelli)

Four years ago in November, I traveled to Baja California, Mexico, alone. I was frustrated by the 24-hour news cycle, and an endless array of talking heads who used words like “surge” and “invasion” to stoke fear and hate as news of a “caravan” dominated the airwaves. South of Tijuana, I met up with several thousand mostly Central American asylum seekers and migrants heading north. We walked in the scorching heat to a camp in the outskirts of Tijuana where I spent several weeks. I met families, young men and women traveling alone, babies and toddlers. I wondered if one day they’d remember, if they’d understand. I did that back and forth for over a year.

Maria Hinojosa, on a motorcycle crossing the river, and the team prepares to attempt to cross one of several rivers that have flooded in hopes of arriving at Las Tekas camp before nightfall. (Photo by Julieta Martinelli)

In November of 2021, I found myself hearing the same words. Yet another “caravan,” more fear-mongering, more misunderstanding of what and why people move in this way, even after all these years—this goes back further than 2018.

Maria Hinojosa holds Wideline Felix’s hand as they walk on a highway in Oaxaca, Mexico, as part of a northbound “caravan” of asylum seekers. The Felix family, who is Haitian but began their journey last year in Brazil, are profiled in the latest episode of “The Moving Border: Even Further South.” (Photo by Yurema Pérez-Hinojosa)

Again, we went to Mexico. We knew two things: we wanted the third episode of “The Moving Border” series to focus on the changes —or lack of— after the first year of the Joe Biden presidency, who made lofty promises related to the treatment of asylum seekers and migrants, and this episode needed to delve into an issue we’d missed in our prior reporting, the particularly harsh conditions and the racism that Black asylum seekers experience, not just at the U.S. border, but throughout their journey there.

Maria Hinojosa, accompanied by her daughter Yurema Pérez-Hinojosa, associate producer Carlos Villalon and local guides, wait out an hours-long rainstorm in Acandi in hopes of being able to continue their journey to migrant camp Las Tekas before nightfall. (Photo by Julieta Martinelli)

Migration is not a Latinx issue, it’s a human rights one, and our work needed to do a better job of exploring all aspects of the inhumanity facing people seeking an opportunity of asylum.

I wrote and reported the first two episodes of “The Moving Border” under a Trump presidency. At the time, we thought —maybe hoped— that the next installment might yield a ray of hope. I’m not sure that it does.

Maria Hinojosa speaks with Ana, a Honduran asylum seeker who joined the caravan with her female friend seeking protection from the dangers of traveling alone. She says she’s felt safer than she has in her whole migration journey since being surrounded by hundreds of other migrants who look out for one another. (Photo by Yurema Pérez-Hinojosa)

What I do know is that I still think of the people Maria Hinojosa and I met on the roads of Oaxaca, standing in line at the Cafetaleros stadium in Tapachula, the quiet anxiety permeating the air in the middle of the night at Las Tekas in Colombia, hours before people would walk into the Darién, communities of strangers bonded by a shared dream, and a shared need for safety. As President Biden hugs Ukrainian children, I can’t help but think of all the children we met on this trip, who are expelled, who sit at camps, who suffer alongside their parents. That’s what “The Moving Border” is about to me—calling out hypocrisy, sin miedo.

You can listen to “The Moving Border: Even Further South” here


Julieta Martinelli is an award-winning investigative reporter and currently a senior producer at Futuro Media. She’s documented the human repercussions of changing legal policies along the U.S.-Mexico border, and covered the criminal justice system, policing, and immigration.