Posted on August 22, 2023

Thousands of West African Migrants Entering US Through New Route Advertised Online

Katherine Donlevy, New York Post, August 19, 2023

Thousands of West African migrants are pouring into the US after social media helped spread the word about a lesser-known, low-stakes path through Nicaragua.

Mauritanians are using WhatsApp, Instagram and other channels to guide fellow migrants along the route, which makes stops in Turkey, Colombia, El Salvador and Managua, Nicaragua, where they are whisked onto a bus by smugglers to cross the US-Mexican border, according to the Associated Press.

Nicaragua, crucially, has relaxed entry requirements that allow Mauritanians and other foreign nationals to purchase a low-cost visa without proof of onward travel.

The influx was sudden and unexpected — and comes at a time when groups of 2,000 to 3,000 a week are being allowed to legally enter the US at El Paso, Texas.

Between March and June, more than 8,500 Mauritanians arrived by crossing the border illegally from Mexico, up from just 1,000 in the four months prior {snip}

The new arrivals likely now outnumber the estimated 8,000 foreign-born Mauritanians already living in the US {snip}


Travel agents have leaned into the new trend and have promoted the journey themselves on social media, including packages of flights that follow the new route.

“The American dream is still available,” one TikTok video caption read, along with an image of a Nicuragan visa.