Among the surge of illegal immigrants walking across the US-Mexico border are members of South America’s middle-class, who are paying for flights to the border before unlawfully walking into the United States, border officials revealed this week.
While the majority of illegal immigrants entering the U.S. are those escaping poverty and crime in their native countries, authorities have seen a jump in middle-class migrants leaving nations like Brazil and Venezuela to illegally enter the U.S., according to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday.
“They got off the plane and went to a cab or to a bus,” said Chris T. Clem, the U.S. Border Patrol’s chief patrol agent in Yuma, referring to the wealthier migrants. “They literally were driven up and just walked up and turned themselves over to us.”
The U.S. government does not monitor how migrants make their way to the southern border or their financial situations, but border officials say they encounter people every day who admit to recently flying to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Some believe the influx of middle-class illegal immigrants is a symptom of the government’s response to the pandemic and the ensuing economic impact.
“The global recession really made people lose hope,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute. “It’s a big deal to go from being middle class in your country to be undocumented in the United States.”
According to the International Monetary Fund, South America and the Caribbean lost nearly 26 million jobs in 2020. The region saw a bigger reduction in jobs than anywhere else in the world.
The Journal reported that most illegal immigrants who request asylum are released into shelters and then move elsewhere as they wait for their claims to be adjudicated. The more affluent class of illegal immigrants, however, often board flights booked ahead of time after being released from the shelters.
According to Fox News correspondent Bill Melugin, Border Patrol documents showed that President Joe Biden’s administration has released more than 70,000 illegal immigrants into the U.S. since August 6. Nearly 32,000 of those were released with temporary legal status, making them eligible for work permits.
“Additionally, the documents show that on a single day in Del Rio sector, (September 28th), 128 single adult illegal immigrants were released from Border Patrol custody *without* ATD (alternatives to detention), which include tracking mechanisms like ankle monitors. @FoxNews,” Melugin tweeted.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics show that more than 1.5 million illegal immigrants have entered the United States since January.