Guatemalan immigrants have been turning up at remote sections of the US Border in droves in recent weeks, a new trend that is worrying officials who are unsure how to respond. It’s particularly unclear if this indicates a new trend or if it just a temporary change due to the large migrant caravans originating from Central America. Border Patrol agents found groups of over 100 migrants only eight times during fiscal year 2018, yet they’ve made nearly four times that many encounters since the new fiscal year began on October 1. Some of those groups have contained nearly 250 migrants, including women and children.
The areas these new migrants are entering the country are often remote, manned by only a few Border Patrol agents. Yet despite the fact that these people could easily move right on through without being caught, they have voluntarily sought out Border Patrol agents in order to surrender themselves and seek asylum. Even more surprising, the immigrants have taken commercial buses from Mexico City to the border rather than taking usual smuggling routes through Mexico.
Authorities are trying to get the immigrants not to cross at such remote locations, as many of those detained are suffering from medical issues that require attention. The recent case of a 7-year-old girl who died after being detained at the border was one such instance of that occurring.
This is obviously something to keep an eye on, as if it portends a trend towards greater numbers of immigrants headed for the border and a greater number of asylum applications, expect both Border Patrol agents at the border and asylum case workers to get slammed with huge additional workloads. While initial indicators were that illegal immigration to the US had fallen after Trump’s election, could it be that all the rhetoric about building the border wall is incentivizing immigrants to make it to the US while they believe they still can?