A group of Central American refugees and asylum seekers, led by the non-profit humanitarian organization Pueblos Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), board a truck offering a ride to their next destination in the town of Santiago Niltepec, Oaxaca state, Mexico, on Saturday, March 31, 2018. The Trump administration is crafting legislation to make it harder for refugees to gain asylum in the U.S. and loosen restrictions on detaining immigrants apprehended near the border, a senior White House official said. Photographer: Jordi Ruiz Cirera/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PHOTO: Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A group of Central American refugees and asylum seekers, led by the non-profit humanitarian organization Pueblos Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), board a truck offering a ride to their next destination in the town of Santiago Niltepec, Oaxaca state, Mexico, on Saturday, March 31, 2018. The Trump administration is crafting legislation to make it harder for refugees to gain asylum in the U.S. and loosen restrictions on detaining immigrants apprehended near the border, a senior White House official said. Photographer: Jordi Ruiz Cirera/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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(CNN) —  

The agony and desperation are written all over the migrants’ faces. But what you can’t see is how bad their homelands really are.

Why would a caravan of migrants spend a month trekking across several countries, battling hunger, filth and illness, when their chances of getting US asylum are so slim?

A snapshot of the countries they’re fleeing from shows the nightmares they’re trying to escape:

Honduras

Honduran Misael Bonilla says widespread crime forced his family to flee.
PHOTO: CNN
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Gross national income, per capita: $2,150

Population living in poverty: 60.9%

Life in Honduras: As the second-poorest country in Central America, Honduras “suffers from extraordinarily unequal distribution of income,” and rampant underemployment, the CIA World Factbook says.

Widespread gang violence fuels the instability and suffering. Criminals have extorted Hondurans into paying an arbitrary “war tax” for their survival, and those who can’t pay often are killed.

Police hold a boy whose father was killed in 2016 by alleged gang members for refusing to pay them a "war tax" in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
PHOTO: ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
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“There are no jobs, no justice, no laws in Honduras,” said 32-year-old Karen Gallo, one of the migrants on the caravan.

Some of the migrants are transgender people who faced persecution in Honduras. Nikolle Contreras said she suffered “discrimination because of my sexuality, lack of work, discrimination within my own family for being gay and worse, for being a trans person.”

El Salvador

01:01 - Source: CNN Business
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Gross national income, per capita: $3,920

Population below poverty line: 38.2%

Life in El Salvador: “El Salvador is beset by one of the world’s highest homicide rates and pervasive criminal gangs,” the CIA World Factbook says.

One 38-year-old migrant on the caravan said she understands not everyone will welcome her to the US.

“But I don’t have an option,” she told CNN. “If I stay in El Salvador, I’m going to be killed.”

In recent decades, poor economic conditions and natural disasters also have contributed to Salvadorans fleeing to the United States.

Guatemala

Guatamalan protesters demand the resignation of President Jimmy Morales for "his inability to govern" and possible acts of corruption.
PHOTO: JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
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Gross national income, per capita: $3,790

Population below poverty line: 59.3%

Life in Guatemala: Almost half of Guatemalan children under age 5 are chronically malnourished – “one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world,” the CIA World Factbook says.

“Guatemalans have a history of emigrating legally and illegally to Mexico, the United States and Canada because of a lack of economic opportunity, political instability, and natural disasters.”

More than half of the country lives in poverty, and 23% lives in extreme poverty – meaning people live on less than $1.25 a day.

CNN’s Leyla Santiago, Khushbu Shah and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.