Social Issues

Migrants pay up to $40,000 for a “protection action” to reach Mexico’s northern border

By Manuel Ayala

Tijuana, Mexico, Jan 27 (EFE).- Officials on the northern border of Mexico are warning that at least 8,000 migrants a month, 300 daily, are contacting “coyotes” (smugglers) under the promise of protection from deportation and free passage through the United States.

In an interview with EFE, David Perez, head of the Migration National Institute (INM) in Baja California, said the number of individuals using these types of services has increased in the last quarter of 2023.

The Immigration Department representative in the state bordering California explained that coyotes sell an “all-inclusive” package to the migrants to reach border cities like Tijuana, enabling them to cross illegally into the United States.

Varying prices to deceive migrants

Packages which include a plane ticket from Tapachula or Mexico City to Tijuana, are provided to migrants. “Each package has a different cost,” depending on the migrant’s situation, according to Perez.

Upon reaching Tijuana a “supposed taxi driver or Uber can direct them to a safe house or a place where they can stay for 24 hours or less, and the next day they are already crossing into the United States,” Perez added.

Research reveals varying costs based on the migrant’s situation, with rates changing for family units, minors, and individuals from different regions.

“Those from Uzbekistan pay up to 40,000 dollars, Chinese 20,000, those from Central America 7,000 dollars, Ecuadorians 10,000,” he said.

Despite possessing the legal instrument of a “protective action,” migrants face an administrative process and up to 36 hours of detention upon interception, as emphasized by the INM representative.

The arrival of migrants under this modality reached its peak last November when the INM registered 13,600 protected migrants in Baja California. The number has already decreased this January.

INM also faces accusations

Nicole Ramos, director of the organization Al Otro Lado en Tijuana, questioned sending the message to migrants that the only way to cross to the United States is through CBP-One, the official US application for migrants.

“It is used to limit the number of asylum seekers who can cross, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) refuses to process asylum seekers if they arrive without an appointment, regardless of the person’s circumstances,” she denounced.

“We would not see unscrupulous lawyers in Mexico or organized crime profiting from migrants’ desire for safe passage to the border to seek asylum if Mexico did not act as a watchdog for the US government,” she added. EFE

ma/dgp

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