The crisis on the southern border has been driven by a surge of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Now there’s a new face of the crisis: Hundreds of African migrants have crossed the border in recent weeks, many to seek asylum.
Filipe and Mireille took their four young children and fled violent militias and civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo nearly five months ago. They flew to Ecuador, then traveled on foot across Central America to reach the U.S.-Mexico border, where they waited for weeks in a long line of asylum-seekers before being allowed to cross and make the last leg of their journey. Finally, they reached their destination: a makeshift emergency shelter in Portland, Maine — a converted minor-league sports arena now filled with cots. Filipe describes it as “paradise.”
Border Patrol agents in the Del Rio sector of South Texas recently took into custody more than 500 migrants in just one week, mostly families from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. Central Africans are also drawn to the U.S. because the boat trip across the Mediterranean can be treacherous. In fact, many don’t even make it to the sea but are swept up in refugee camps in North Africa.
Now many of these migrants fly to South America. And when they get there, they find well-traveled roads to follow north.