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Getting to the United States: The Latin American Route

August 22, 2016
Plain English Version
At the Tapachula Processing center in Mexico.

At the Tapachula Processing center in Mexico.

Mexico is now the next to last stop for migrants coming from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. They are trying to reach the United States. For many, the journey ends at the Tapachula processing center on the southern border of Mexico.

The journey to Mexico begins when migrants get to Brazil. There they can get forged passports. It is a costly journey. The migrants pay smugglers thousands of dollars at every step.

Here is one man’s journey

  • He paid a smuggler in Pakistan $9,000 to get him to Brazil.
  • Once in Brazil, he got a fake Belgian passport. He then paid $4,000 to go by bus, boat and on foot through Colombia and into Panama.
  • Agents detained and released him in Panama.
  • A smuggler from Lebanon took him from Panama to Honduras. There, thieves robbed him of all his belongings.
  • His family wired him enough money to pay $40 to go by raft from Honduras to Guatemala.
  • He got a taxi in Guatemala that took him to the Mexican border. Mexican authorities took him to the Tapachula processing center. For the moment his journey is over.

Most agree that most of the migrants are seeking a better life in the U.S. They are fleeing hunger and violence. Most also agree that the new routes can give terrorists other ways to enter this country.

The U.S. is making a big effort to deal with the problem of identifying terrorists. It is sending American agents to countries along the migrant routes. They are training border workers on how to identify undocumented migrants. They are training border workers on how to use databases to check the identities of the migrants. This program is getting bigger.

It is not easy to return refugees to their home countries. Mexico does not have diplomatic relations with many of them. The United States cannot arrest people on foreign soil.

The real issue for the United States is security. This is yet another front in the war on terror.

Source: The New York Times August 16, 2016

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