Smugglers Send First Caravan of African Migrants to U.S.

Monday, June 3, 2019
By Paul Martin

3 Jun 2019

The first caravan of African migrants arrived at the U.S. border on May 31, spotlighting the risk that millions of Asians and Africans will follow the Central Americans’ catch-and-release pathway into the U.S. labor market.

“This is the first large group apprehended in the Del Rio Sector and the first large group of people from Africa – including nationals from Angola, Cameroon and Congo – apprehended on the Southwest border this year,” said a press statement from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. “Agents performing line watch operations apprehended the group after they illegally crossed the Rio Grande into the U.S. around 10:30 p.m.”

Officials need to detain and deport the African caravan or else many more will follow them to the United States, warned Jessica Vaughan, the policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies.

“Once the word gets out that the system is so broken that we will not even detain people from [Africa], then we will see an onslaught of arrivals from all over the world that we have never had before,” she said.

The main loophole consists of the Flores court regulation, which prevents border agencies from holding a person for more than 20 days if he or she brings a child and also claims asylum. Once released, the economic migrants are entitled to job permits — and can easily hide in the large illegal population of at least 12 million people when they eventually lose their asylum cases.

If released — and nearly all adults who arrive with children are released — the migrants can get jobs to pay their smuggling debts. Subsequently, many migrants rehire their smugglers to send over their family members, creating an illegal chain-migration process.

“There are just so many people in the world who want to take advantage of the situation,” Vaughan said. “We’ve already emptied out a big part of Central America … Imagine the number of people from African and Asia who would try to take advantage of this.”

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