Migrant Surge at Border Is 'Unprecedented'

More migrants are documenting their journey on social media, helping fuel the record numbers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2023 11:54 AM CST
New Wrinkle in Border Surge: Migrants as 'Influencers'
Migrant men are searched and escorted into a van by Border Patrol agents on Dec. 15 near Lukeville, Arizona.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

"Wearily" is the word used by the Washington Post to describe how Troy Miller, the acting head of the US Customs and Border Protection, spoke. With good reason: "The numbers we are seeing now are unprecedented," he says of the illegal crossings at the border. Agents are logging more than 10,000 encounters with migrants a day, a volume that threatens to "buckle" the system, a former Department of Homeland Security official tells CNN. Meanwhile, negotiations for more funding have stalled in Congress. Related coverage:

  • Social media: Migrants making the journey across dangerous areas such as the Darien Gap are documenting their trek and becoming unexpected "influencers," reports the New York Times. The newspaper recounts the example of Venezuela's Manuel Monterrosa, who made a YouTube series about his own journey. Monterrosa made it to the US, but "to his surprise, his videos began attracting so many views and earning enough money from YouTube that he decided he no longer needed to live in America at all." So many migrants are doing this that it might diminish the need for smugglers to guide them.

  • Travel 'agencies': CNN reports that "pseudo-legitimate travel agencies" in places as far-flung as Senegal are fueling the migrant surge. These agencies promise visa-free travel to the US, hook up with smuggling groups, and eventually make use of bus lines in Mexico that travel to random locations along the US border.
  • From all over: The Post notes that migrants are reaching the US from more places than ever. For example, "men from China, India, and Turkey have been crossing into California near the town of Jacumba Hot Springs" while "families from Mexico and Central America and men from Africa are coming through the deserts south of Arizona."
  • Freight disruption: To cope with the surge, CPB has closed several bridges and ports of entry into the US, reports the Wall Street Journal. (This is partly because CPB needs to free up agents to process the record number of migrants.) Companies such as Union Pacific say this threatens to wreak havoc on schedules amid the busy holiday shipping season.
  • Congress: The AP reports that the broad outlines of a deal are taking shape on three main issues: tougher asylum rules that would allow CBP to quickly deport more migrants, beefed-up border security, and ways to prevent migrants from leaving their home nations in the first place. "Millions of decisions," said GOP Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, explaining why talks get bogged down. "Underneath every big idea [are] 100 smaller decisions that all have to be made, and every one is complicated."
(The politics of the border is playing out in ugly ways, with Donald Trump asserting that migrants are "poisoning the blood of our country," and President Biden responding that he sounds like Hitler.)

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