About 1,300 migrants are stranded in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca after a cargo train they were riding derailed Wednesday, emergency services said.
Reuters reports many of those aboard were young people trying to make it to the United States from their home countries in Central America.
For many, the train, which carries the nicknames “the Beast” and “the Train of Death,” is the quickest way to travel through Mexico to the southern border of the U.S. But the trip on the ramshackle cargo train is far from safe.
The Beast does not stop to pick up passengers. Instead, would-be riders must jump onto the moving cars as they pass. Once aboard, the passengers ride the roofs of the cars. Many have died or suffered severed limbs while attempting to board or have tumbled off the roofs, according to The Huffington Post.
The perilous ride and the recent derailment of the Beast only highlights the growing humanitarian crisis south of the U.S. border. Since the beginning of this year, more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been stopped and detained at the U.S. border. Many say they are escaping harsh conditions in their home countries and looking for family members already living in the United States. Most have decided to take the journey based on false rumors that the federal government will allow them to stay in the country once they arrive.
But not all of those traveling on the train are minors. The older passengers say they simply don’t have a choice but to try for a life in the U.S.
"Many people say to us: Why don't we stay in our countries? If my country was good, I'd be in my country. I'd be there. I've got my family there. My kids, my wife. But I'm here because I want a better job, where I can make more money. This is why I'm doing this," one man waiting to hop a ride on the Beast told NPR.
"For a better future, we decided to make this trip,” said a 30-year-old woman traveling with her three children.
But many, like Zack Taylor of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, say the increased number of migrants traveling to the U.S., and taking the risky ride on the train, is the fault of the federal government.
"The U.S. is partly responsible for foreign nationals taking extreme measures that risk the lives of their children," Taylor told Breitbart Texas. "Our government is encouraging foreign nationals to come into our country illegally and stay."
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson denied those claims, saying at a press conference earlier this month that the U.S. is not "encouraging illegal immigration in any way, shape, or form.”
There is no word whether aid is on the way to help the 1,300 stranded migrants in Oaxaca. There were no reported injuries. Authorities said several days of heavy rain likely led to the train’s derailment.