But someone had to be at the front of the line. And in end, they picked her.
Gabriela Hernandez, a pregnant mother of two whose journey CNN has followed, was among eight people chosen Monday by her fellow migrants to begin the process of seeking asylum in the United States.
When customs officials on Monday again began processing the cases of people they termed "undocumented arrivals," the migrants looked among themselves for who should step to the fore.
They picked eight, including Hernandez.
'I cannot go back to my country'
She'd come 3,000 miles to get to this place, a kindergartner and a toddler in tow as a third little one, in just its second trimester, grew in her belly.
Hernandez had left her husband because of domestic abuse. But then gang members found her and demanded to know where he was. They gave her 12 hours before, they said, they'd kill her 6-year-old.
That night, she took the boys and ran north.
A month later, she was among the chosen few being processed by US officials at the border, representatives from the groups Pueblo Sin Fronteras and Human Rights First said Monday night.
Her plan had been to claim asylum, given the danger to her life and her children in Honduras. Still, she knew all along, it held no guarantees.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," she said. "I cannot go back to my country."