Mexico-based cartels have begun marketing to populations other than those from Central American to smuggle into the United States after the Trump administration’s immigration policies have cut into their profits.
In addition to pushing more Mexicans to make the trip, the cartels are also looking for people on other continents, The Epoch Times reports.
“They saw that we were making progress towards stemming the flow of illegal immigration from the Northern Triangle countries—really taking billions of dollars out of their pockets—and they shifted,” said Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), during an event with the Center for Immigration Studies last week.
“I mean Indians, Africans, Haitians … the list goes on and on and on,” Morgan said.
Many Africans fly into South America, then make their way north through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and finally Mexico, the Times noted.
Del Rio, Texas, has become a popular crossing point for Haitians and Africans. During the first week of December, federal immigration enforcement agents there apprehended 56 illegal immigrants from African countries that include Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
For more context, just eight Angolans and 11 Congolese crossed the entire southern border throughout the 12 years from 2007 through 2018, Customs and Border Protection data show, the Times reported.
Nearly 70 percent of people crossing illegally into the U.S. in the Del Rio sector are from 38 countries other than Mexico.
“I think there’s some perhaps NGO, social media messaging, that’s happening south of here that is steering some of this traffic our way,” Del Rio Sector Chief Raul Ortiz has said previously.
He added that some groups were attempting to cross in the Laredo sector but where likely redirected to Del Rio by the cartels.
“And then, of course, once people enter here, it doesn’t take long for them to pick up the phone and call folks that they know—that are either staged in Brazil, Ecuador, and some of those other countries—to say, ‘Hey, we just crossed through Del Rio sector; it was a relatively smooth process,’” Ortiz said.
Under the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as “Remain in Mexico,” migrants who are trying to claim asylum or are awaiting immigration court proceedings are sent back across the U.S. border.
At present, Mexico only accepts Spanish-speaking migrants, but Morgan said talks are underway for the country to begin accepting other nationalities.
“We’re confident that they’re going to agree to that,” he said.