Immigration: Dramatic increase in the number of migrants seeking asylum in Arizona overwhelms Border Patrol

For hours, migrants, mostly middle-class South Americans, waited for the Border Patrol’s turn, lighting fires just a few feet from the border wall to keep warm.

“My family depends on me,” said Carlos Garcia, 47, from Venezuela seeking asylum in the US, in Spanish.

Thousands of migrants have flocked to the US-Mexico border in recent weeks, overwhelming facilities and straining already taxed resources in the area.

It is the latest challenge for the Biden administration, which for months has struggled with large numbers of migrants at the US-Mexico border. In October, Border Patrol arrested nearly 22,000 people crossing the border in Yuma, up 1,200% from January, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

At a break point along the US-Mexico border wall, migrants hauled suitcases and luggage, crossed and gathered to be picked up by Border Patrol agents. Unlike previous surges in migration, these people are – in many cases – middle-class families, underscoring the economic and political instability in much of Latin America.

Francisco Lopez, 50, from Nicaragua, never planned to immigrate to the United States. But political oppression at home left him with no other choice, he said.

“Unfortunately, I had to choose this option which is probably not what I planned for my future,” he said in Spanish. Lopez, a lawyer, journeyed north with her 18-year-old son.

“On the one hand, Covid and the recessions that came with it have made a lot of people in the Latin American middle class a lot worse off and those who don’t think about immigrating,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute. immigrants decided it was a useful option,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute. “At the same time, the ease of crossing the border has led some people with ties to the US to decide that the time has come if they are going to come. I think both are true at the same time.”

This group of migrants lined up themselves to speed up the arrest process.  They have been waiting for this moment to apply for asylum in the US.

The coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the already dire situation in Central and South America, prompting people to journey north. Authorities in South America have been tracking the increased movement of migrants in the region for months.

Earlier this year, the influx of Haitians – many of whom have lived in South America for many years – to Del Rio, Texas, exemplified the difficulty of dealing with constantly changing migration flows. These migrants are mainly on foot and by bus.

But many migrants fleeing conditions in Latin America and reaching Yuma have taken a different route – often flying to an airport in Mexico and then crossing a gap along the Colorado River, cutting the journey. down to just a few days. It’s the most viable option for many Venezuelans and Brazilians, for example, who can’t get a visa that allows them to work in the US – or can’t afford the lengthy legal immigration process. five.

Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls recently declared a local state of emergency to help with the situation in his city. “This is very unusual. This is ground that we’ve never really stumbled upon before,” he told CNN.

The Biden administration is expected to send more than 100 agents to Yuma this week to provide additional assistance, according to Nicholls, who has contacts with the Department of Homeland Security.

In a statement, CBP spokesman John Mennell said they are working with partners to “expeditiously ship, screen and resolve issues encountered.”

“CBP deploys Border Patrol agents and CBP officers as needed to support operations based on fluctuations as needed. Our borders are not open. CBP stands by to address any concerns. situation as we work to ensure the safety and security of our border and administer a fair and orderly immigration system,” the statement continued.

The administration has relied on a Trump-era public health order to quickly remove thousands of migrants, but there are some nationalities, such as South American, that are not accepted by Mexico and therefore most cannot be deported.

“We’re busy everywhere. We’re not slow in any particular location. So when you get resources from another location, another busy location, you’re just running out of resources. that resource to deal with an issue that can be addressed through policy,” said Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council, adding that smugglers and gangs contribute to the number larger numbers of people migrated across areas of the southern border of the United States.

To assist with Border Patrol, Arizona’s Department of Public Safety is patrolling a large area of ​​desert along the border at the request of Republican Governor Doug Ducey.

Major Damon Cecil, chief of staff for criminal investigations, said: “Out here, we are observing the desert, tracking movement, looking for any sign that we have a group moving. via”. they are tracking any criminal activity.

Cecil and his soldiers try to fill the gaps, while the Border Patrol handles thousands of migrants turning and seeking asylum.

“What we’re seeing here is an increase in illegal drugs … because the Border Patrol is tied up and they know the manpower here is limited,” Cecil said, referring to the Border Patrol. to smugglers. DPS is seeing more dangerous drugs in larger quantities.

Migrants who have just crossed the border, walk into Yuma.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has repeatedly warned migrants against journeying to the southern US border.

Mayorkas said at a press conference last week: “I cannot convey this message too strongly that individuals should not put their life savings in the hands of smuggling organizations that exploit vulnerabilities of their own. surname”. “Borders are not open.”

But for the migrants here, crossing the border into the United States, they say, is their best move.

“We had no choice but to wait because we waited so many years,” Garcia said.


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