Washington, July 13 (IANS): A growing number of migrants from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean are trying to cross the border between Mexico and the US.
Central America and Mexico continue to lead the flow of migration but the US is currently the largest recipient of immigrants from Asia, Africa, Cuba and Haiti, according to a study by the International Organization for Migration, the Efe news reported on Saturday.
US Border Patrol sources have also confirmed the findings from the UN agency.
More than 1,000 Haitians have been arrested in the Del Rio Sector in Texas since June 10, compared to 17 that were arrested before that date during this fiscal year.
“Our agents are seeing an increase in the entry of Haitian citizens into the country illegally, which represents new challenges that we face,” Chief Patrol Agent Raul Ortiz said.
On the same dates, Border Patrol officers in the sector detained more than 500 Africans who were walking in different groups after crossing the Rio Grande river with children.
The figure is more than double the total of 211 African immigrants who were detained along the 3,200 km (2,000 miles) of the US-Mexico border during the 2018 fiscal year.
“We continue to see an increase in the detention of migrants from countries that we do not usually find in our area,” Ortiz added.
Yuma Sector Border Patrol agent José Garibay said that he and his colleagues in Arizona arrested immigrants from 40 different countries in the 2019 fiscal year.
“While we have detained people from Africa, Asia and others who travel both in family units and alone, most of our arrests are of Guatemalan citizens travelling as a family,” he added.
Migration authorities have reported that many families have lived in Chile and other South American countries for several years before leaving for the US.
Francisco Lara-Valencia, associate professor of the School of Transborder Studies and Southwest Borderland Scholar at Arizona State University, said: “Most of the new immigrants, like the Haitians who arrived in northern Mexico, do not come from their country of origin, but from Brazil or Venezuela, likewise we receive Africans and Asians who do not necessarily come from their place of birth, but from other countries that welcomed them.”
He added that there is more diversity in the origin of migrants arriving in the US due to the changing needs that develop in their places of origin and the way in which information is disseminated on social networks.
“In the past, they migrated for economic reasons, due to unemployment and poverty, but in recent years and months, immigrant flows have been fleeing from violence in Mexico and Central America. Now we see other types of ethnic groups that have different migratory needs and they are encouraged by the news of political asylum,” he said.
The city of Piedras Negras in Mexico, which borders the city of Eagle Pass in Texas, is one of the points where a stream of migrants, especially from Congo, Cameroon, Angola, Eritrea and Ethiopia, try to seek asylum in the US.
Like Latin American immigrants, African applicants have little chance of obtaining political asylum.
On average, only 13 per cent of those who apply are accepted, according to analysts.
Carol Rueda, a Honduran migrant who spent a week in a detention centre in Yuma, Arizona, said that she was held along with several Cuban, African and Indian immigrants.
“The Cubans were deported quickly, but there were also families of Africans and a couple from India who were with us the week,” she added.