Posted on November 12, 2023

Migrants Are Flocking to the U.S. From All Over the Globe

Santiago Perez, Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2023

Hundreds of thousands of migrants from all over the world are making their way to the Southwest border, with U.S. and Mexican authorities reporting a surge in apprehensions of people from Asia and Africa as human smuggling networks widen their reach across the globe.

Arrests at the Southwest border of migrants from China, India and other distant countries, including Mauritania and Senegal, tripled to 214,000 during the fiscal year that ended in September from 70,000 in the previous fiscal year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. Fewer than 19,000 migrants from Asia and Africa were apprehended in the fiscal year ended September 2021.

“The increase in migration from Asia and Africa is remarkable,” said Enrique Lucero, head of the migrant support unit of the Tijuana city government, across from San Diego. “These days, we are dealing with 120 nationalities and 60 different languages.”

Travelers say they exchange information and share videos of U.S.-bound routes on Tik Tok and Facebook, while smugglers offer lodging and travel agencies advertise transport services. Most Asian and African migrants make multiple airport stopovers in what are coming to be known as “donkey flights” to reach countries such as Brazil, Ecuador or Nicaragua, which have few or no visa requirements for some nationalities.

Once they set foot in Latin America, they move north in buses or cars and stay at hotels booked by smuggling organizations. Many wear bracelets similar to those of an all-inclusive resort, with inscriptions that identify the organization that coordinated and charged them for the trip, Mexican authorities say.

For the second year in a row, arrests by the Border Patrol at the U.S. Southern border surpassed two million. Most of them, almost nine out of 10 apprehensions, are of migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. But the surge in so-called extracontinental migrants poses a challenge for the U.S. because deporting migrants to Africa and Asia is time-consuming, expensive and sometimes not possible.

Mohamed Aweineny, a 30-year-old Mauritanian who made his living as a driver, left Mauritania Sept. 3. He followed a route from West Africa to Turkey, and on to Colombia before flying to Nicaragua.

“I followed the internet to learn how to get to America without a visa,” he said.


Mexico has reported a fourfold increase in migrants from Asia and Africa so far this year, including a surge in arrivals from Mauritania, neighboring Senegal, India and China.


U.S. and Mexican officials have also seen an uptick in Chinese migrants, who arrive through Ecuador after China’s government lifted pandemic mobility restrictions. Indian migrants fly to Europe and then to Mexico City, or enter the U.S. through Canada. Some Afghans use Brazil as an entry point to the Americas.

U.S. and Mexican authorities have also reported a sharp increase in Russians fleeing their homeland. They fly into Mexico from Turkey, with some 12,500 surrendering to U.S. authorities after illegally crossing the Southwest border since the invasion of Ukraine. {snip}

Nicaragua, a Central American country under the authoritarian regime of President Daniel Ortega that has strained relations with the U.S., has emerged as a relatively new entry point for Africans wanting to head north. The United Nations reported a sixfold jump in African migration via the country during the first half of this year. The mass arrivals generate millions of dollars in revenue for Ortega’s government {snip}

Arriving in Nicaragua allows the African migrants to bypass the deadly jungle paths of the Darién Gap on their way to the U.S., through which a record 450,000 migrants have crossed so far this year, Panama officials say. That is up from around 248,000 for the whole 2022.