The cost of living in Guatemala is rising, and low wages and a lack of steady job opportunities mean many families are trapped in poverty.
As a result, many Guatemalans head to the US for a better future.
But the trip north is dangerous - with migrants facing challenges like sweltering desert heat, corrupt police, gangs and US immigration.
Many people pay guides to take them across the border, only to be caught at the last minute by US border patrols and sent back to their home country penniless.
The money spent on a failed trip north, which is about $3,000, can mean a lifetime of debt and lost opportunities.
But some attempt the crossing again because it means the chance to make more than ten times what they can earn in Guatemala.
Al Jazeera's David Mercer reports from Tzununa.