Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

More People from Far-Flung Corners of World Sneaking into US

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

More People from Far-Flung Corners of World Sneaking into US

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * An increasing number of people from far-flung corners of the world have tried to sneak into the United States among the hundreds of thousands of others, most of them Latin American, caught at the Mexican border in the last year, according to arrest data from the Homeland Security Department.

The arrests of more than 8,000 people from India, China, Romania, Bangladesh and Nepal from October 2015 to the end of August is offering a new challenge to immigration agents tasked with fully identifying would-be immigrants and quickly deporting people caught crossing the border illegally.

The group of overseas migrants represents a tiny fraction of the more than 408,000 people caught crossing the Mexican border illegally in the last year. But the arrests suggest a rising trend in the number of migrants opting for a convoluted trek that sometimes wends across the seas to South America, over land to Central America and then through Mexico before arriving at the U.S. border illegally.

For decades Mexico dominated the discussion on illegal immigration as the country from which most immigrants went to the border illegally. But in recent years the number of Mexican nationals who have been trying to sneak into the United States has dropped.

India and China are now squarely among the top 10 countries of origin for people caught trying to sneak into the United States. Large numbers of immigrants from those two countries have long come to the United States legally and many have overstayed visas to remain here. Now some people are taking a different approach altogether by making their way to Mexico to try to sneak into the United States as visas are harder to come by.

Victor Manjarrez, a former Border Patrol sector chief and director of the Center for Law & Human Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso, said the rising number of migrants from countries far beyond the Americas should be seen as a growing concern.

"That is very unusual. If I was still sitting as the chief of El Paso or Tucson ... I'd be a little concerned," Manjarrez said. "In the grand scheme, as a percentage, it's relatively small, but the raw numbers are such a big jump historically."

The changing face of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border is a small part of a broader trend of global migration, with millions of people fleeing their home countries. But the arrival of so many people from far beyond U.S. borders brings with it broad implications for U.S. border security and other immigration enforcement efforts.

The Homeland Security Department has made arresting, jailing and deporting recent border crossers a top priority for immigration agents. Most Mexican migrants caught at the border are sent home within just a few days. But for migrants from countries a continent away the process is often far longer and costlier for the U. …

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