Mexicans and Central Americans typically make up the majority of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, but increasingly people coming into the United States illegally are from countries farther south and from all over the globe.
Although Mexicans and Central Americans make up 75% of all illegal immigrants at U.S. borders, significantly more people from the Caribbean, Central Europe, and South America have been encountered by Border Patrol agents since the beginning of the government’s fiscal year in October 2020.
"We are seeing a permanent change in migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. And it’s expanding," said Theresa Cardinal Brown, managing director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. "We’re seeing huge increases in people, not from the Central American countries and not from Mexico, which means this is now just the migration route."
Political turmoil, the COVID-19 pandemic, and poverty are some of the factors spurring increased migration from South America and Cuba. There has been a 13,951% increase in Venezuelans taken into custody between June 2020 and June 2021, according to the Washington Examiner. The socialist country is in economic free-fall.
More than 54,000 people from Ecuador have been encountered by U.S. border authorities in the past nine months. This is a fivefold increase from the same time last year.
Almost 30,000 Brazilians were apprehended at the border this year, compared to 9,000 the previous year from Brazil, which has been especially hard hit by the pandemic.
Cuban illegal migrants increased from 14,000 in June 2020 to 26,000 in June this year. Cuba has seen mass protests against the Communist regime this year. Migration from Haiti also is up substantially in the same period, by over 2,000%.
More far-flung countries such as the Philippines and Romania are also pushing illegal immigrants to the United States. More than 34,000 Philipinos and 4,369 Romanians were stopped at the border.
Vice President Kamala Harris has focused her attention on grass-roots reasons why people want to leave Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador for the United States. More attention needs to be paid to the root causes in other countries, argues Cardinal Brown. "Otherwise, Central American migration will drop, but global migration to the U.S. will continue to rise."
NBC News has reported that President Joe Biden wants to accelerate the asylum approval process as well as deportation for illegal migrants. He has drafted a 21-point plan to do so.
Most Americans are unhappy with the way the government is handing the migration problem at the U.S. border with Mexico. A Pew Research poll found that a majority of both Republicans and Democrats say it is very or somewhat important to reduce the number of asylum seekers and to increase staff for border patrols and processing unaccompanied minors.
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