YUMA, Ariz. (KGUN) — 2022 is a record year along the U.S.-Mexico border. More than 2.2 million migrants have tried to cross illegally. Not only that, but they’re coming from all over the world.
Border Patrol agents typically needed to speak English and Spanish to process migrants along the southern border. Now, they speak Google Translate.
“Over 50% of our population aren’t English or Spanish-speaking," said Chris Clem, the Chief Patrol Agent for the Yuma sector. "They may speak broken English but they speak other languages.”
Chief Chris Clem in Yuma says this year, his agents have encountered migrants from 115 different countries. And the percent of migrants from outside Central America has sky rocketed. Jumping from 6% in 2019 to 88% this year.
“This is really something I haven’t experienced at this scale in my career,” Clem said.
Chief Clem says they fly to Mexico City, and then to Mexicali, which is only an hour drive from the Yuma border. He says smugglers coordinate the whole trip over the phone.
“They’re using Whatsapp to recruit drivers and payment to get to point A and pick up five people to deliver them to point B. This didn’t happen before we had these technologies.”
It’s difficult for border officials to deal with migrants of these nationalities, since they cant afford to send them back to their home countries. Typically, border agents process migrants and send them to I.C.E. to determine next steps. But lately I.C.E. doesn't have space for them, forcing Chief Clem to find other avenues.
"This irregular migration flow of migrants ultimately surrendering when they cross is impacting our primary mission of securing our border.”
Now, the Yuma sector partially relies on a local non-profit to bus migrants to the Phoenix Airport. They can fly anywhere in the country with the expectation to appear in court for a future hearing.
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