Illegals Flooding the Border in Advance of Trump Inauguration
Central American governments are reporting that thousands of their citizens are leaving their countries and moving toward the U.S. border. The human smugglers known as "coyotes" are telling the illegals that if they want to go to the U.S., the time to go is now, before Donald Trump takes office.
Trump's tough campaign rhetoric sent tremors through the slums of Central America and the close-knit migrant communities in U.S. cities, with many choosing to fast-forward their plans and migrate north before Trump takes office on Jan. 20.
During fiscal year 2016, the United States detained nearly 410,000 people along the southwest border with Mexico, up about a quarter from the previous year. The vast majority hail from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Since Trump's victory, the number of people flocking north has surged, Central American officials say, contributing to a growing logjam along the southern U.S. border.
"We're worried because we're seeing a rise in the flow of migrants leaving the country, who have been urged to leave by coyotes telling them that they have to reach the United States before Trump takes office," Maria Andrea Matamoros, Honduras' deputy foreign minister, told Reuters, referring to people smugglers.
Carlos Raul Morales, Guatemala's foreign minister, told Reuters people were also leaving Guatemala en masse before Trump becomes president.
"The coyotes are leaving people in debt, and taking their property as payment for the journey," he said in an interview.
Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened a temporary holding facility for up to 500 people near the Texan border with Mexico, in what it said was a response to a marked uptick in illegal border crossings.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said earlier this month immigration detention facilities were holding about 10,000 more individuals than usual, after a spike in October of migrants including unaccompanied children, families and asylum seekers.
Unemployed and sick of the lack of opportunities and endemic gang violence that blight his poor neighborhood in the town of San Marcos, south of San Salvador, Carlos Garcia, 25, said he was looking to enter the United States before Trump assumes power.
"There's one thing I'm very clear about," he said. "I want to get out of here."