Biden’s Pentagon Refuses D.C. Mayor Bowser’s Request for National Guard to Deal with Illegal Immigration

President Joe Biden’s Pentagon has refused a request from Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to activate the National Guard to help the city deal with illegal immigration.

Last week, Bowser requested the Biden administration activate the D.C. National Guard as she said the city is at a “tipping point” with a surge of illegal immigration triggered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s busing border crossers and illegal aliens to Democrat-run sanctuary cities.

HAPPENING NOW: Third Bus of Migrants Arriving in DC from Texas…

Posted by Breitbart on Friday, April 15, 2022

According to Bowser, Abbott has sent more than 4,000 border crossers and illegal aliens to D.C. since April. On Friday, a Defense Department official confirmed to CNN that the federal agency had denied Bowser’s request to activate the D.C. National Guard.

CNN reports:

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rejected the request because the Department of Defense has “determined providing this support would negatively impact the readiness of the DCNG and have negative effects on the organization and members,” the official said. [Emphasis added]

Abbott has invited Bowser, along with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, to visit the U.S.-Mexico border to witness firsthand the record level of illegal immigration that Texas must deal with as a result of Biden’s expansive Catch and Release operation that continues enticing thousands of border crossers and illegal aliens every day to the United States.

Most recently, Abbott said he was looking at expanding on the Democrat-run sanctuary cities that Texas will send border crossers and illegal aliens to not only include Washington, D.C. and New York City.

“We are helping out these small local communities by sending even more buses to these communities and putting these new migrants on the buses and sending them to Washington, D.C.,” Abbott said. “And we’re looking at other cities to send them to.”

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


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NY Times Blames GOP Governors for ‘Causing Havoc’ by Busing Border Crossers to Democrat Sanctuary Cities

The New York Times is blaming Republican governors for “causing havoc” by  busing border crossers welcomed by the Biden administration to Democrat sanctuary cities.

As Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) continue busing border crossers and illegal aliens to Democrat sanctuary cities, the Times published a piece titled “GOP Governors Cause Havoc by Busing Migrants to East Coast” where Republicans are seemingly blamed for President Joe Biden’s expansive Catch and Release operation.

The Times reports:

A political tactic by the governors of Texas and Arizona to offload the problems caused by record levels of migration at the border is beginning to hit home in Washington, as hundreds of undocumented migrants arriving on the governors’ free bus rides each week increasingly tax the capital’s ability to provide emergency food and housing. [Emphasis added]

With no money and no family to receive them, the migrants are overwhelming immigrant nonprofits and other volunteer groups, with many ending up in homeless shelters or on park benches. Five buses arrived on a recent day, spilling young men and families with nowhere to go into the streets near the Capitol. [Emphasis added]

About 15 faith and community-based groups in Washington have opened their doors to the migrants, offering them meals, showers and hygiene items during daylight hours. But the increase in the frequency of buses, from two to four a day to now sometimes eight, has depleted donations and exceeded capacity, and many volunteers have contracted Covid-19, said Ms. Scherff. [Emphasis added]

As Breitbart News exclusively reported, migrant buses from Texas have started arriving at New York City’s Port Authority near the New York Times building. One bus that arrived on Friday was filled with mostly single male adults who have no ties to the United States.

Emma-Jo Morris / Breitbart News

The number of border crossers and illegal aliens that sanctuary jurisdictions like Washington, D.C. and New York City have had to absorb pales in comparison to the levels experienced by American border communities.

Since April, for example, Abbott has sent over 6,200 border crossers and illegal aliens to Washington, D.C. Ducey has likewise sent about 1,000 since May. Compare that roughly 7,200 figure to the 7,100 border crossers and illegal aliens who inundate American border communities every day for months as a result of Biden’s Catch and Release agenda.

That operation has transformed the U.S.-Mexico border into a checkpoint for border crossers and illegal aliens where they are apprehended, briefly detained, and then sent on their way with work permits, and sometimes cellphones, into American communities.

Soon, the Biden administration will entice foreign nationals to make the often-deadly journey to the southern border by providing government-issued identification cards so they can more freely travel throughout the U.S. interior and access public benefits.

From February 2021 to May 2022, the Biden administration released over a million border crossers and illegal aliens into the U.S. interior. The administration has yet to reveal how many were released in June and July.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


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Exclusive Footage: Migrant Bus of Mostly Single Adult Men, Sent by Texas Gov. Abbott, Arrives in New York City

NEW YORK CITY — A bus filled with mostly single adult male migrants arrived at Port Authority in New York City from Texas Friday morning — where they were greeted by volunteers handing out burritos — as Gov. Greg Abbott (R) continues dispersing record-breaking numbers of border crossers and illegal aliens arriving in his state to Democrat-run “sanctuary cities.”

New York City officials appeared to be unprepared for the migrants’ arrival, or at least lacked communication and coordination to receive them, as Port Authority did not initially have a gate for the bus to park, and Port Authority employees were not aware of the plan for arrival. The bus circled between 8th and 9th avenues Friday morning until it was finally able to park at Gate 14 at approximately 7:30 a.m.

“Because of President Biden’s continued refusal to acknowledge the crisis caused by his open border policies, the State of Texas has had to take unprecedented action to keep our communities safe,” Gov. Abbott said in a statement.

“In addition to Washington, D.C., New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city,” Abbott said. “I hope he follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief.”

When the bus arrived, Breitbart News witnessed passengers disembarking after a 3-day journey from Texas, greeted by a handful of volunteers. One volunteer was wearing a “NYC immigration services” t-shirt, but there did not appear to be any city employees present.

The greeters handed migrants a bag bearing the logo of the humanitarian aid organization “Save the Children”; however, there appeared to be fewer than 10 children among the group, and no more than 5 women. The rest of the 60-some passengers on the bus were single males between the ages of 20 to 40 years old.

The volunteers led the group through Port Authority, corralled them into the entrance of the bus station and handed out burritos. Some migrants were provided rides to other locations, but it was unclear where.

A bus filled with mostly single adult male migrants arrives in New York City from Texas as part of Gov. Greg Abbotts’ plan that buses border crossers and illegal aliens out of the state to Democrat-run cities. (Emma-Jo Morris/Breitbart News)

A bus filled with mostly single adult male migrants arrives in New York City from Texas as part of Gov. Greg Abbotts’ plan that buses border crossers and illegal aliens out of the state to Democrat-run cities. (Emma-Jo Morris/Breitbart News)

One migrant, a man who said his name is Alfonzo and who arrived alone, told Breitbart News he traveled from Venezuela through Mexico into Texas, where he was put directly on the bus to New York City.

He left his wife and children in Chile and explained that he came alone to America first and planned to bring them later. He does not have any family or connections in the United States and does not speak English. He came with one bag containing some toiletries and a pillow, and had 130 U.S. dollars.

Alfonzo told Breitbart News that now was a good “opportunity” to come to the United States, explaining that he did not believe he would be admitted under former President Trump’s administration, specifically mentioning that the wall along the southern border was an obstacle to entry. He said locals in Mexico accepted money to direct him toward the border.

Alfonzo said he was looking for work, but had never been to New York City or the United States. He did not have a place to stay and was not informed of any lodging services or resources.

Despite Democrat officials’ support for illegal immigration through their expansive sanctuary city policies, which shield illegal aliens from arrest and deportation from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a handful have warned that the migrant buses from Texas will overwhelm their city’s public resources.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), for instance, has pleaded with Biden for “additional federal resources immediately” to deal with the illegal immigration surge. In another statement, Adams told New Yorkers to get “on board” with having their city overrun with border crossers and illegal aliens arriving and straining infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods.

NYC Mayor’s Officer / YouTube

“Everyone’s block is going to be impacted by this,” Adams said. “And so we have to add our advocacy with our ability to help our neighbors. We need everyone on board with this.”

“… our schools are going to be impacted, our healthcare system is going to be impacted, our infrastructure is going to be impacted,” he continued.

Adams’ office claims the migrant buses’ being sent to New York City is akin to using border crossers and illegal aliens “as political pawns,” calling the policy “disgusting.”

Gov. Abbott has issued a public invitation to Mayor Adams to visit the southern border, insisting the “sanctuary city” mayor witness “the magnitude of chaos created by Biden’s open-border policies.”

“I really wish they would [visit] because public officials across the country, they do need to realize the magnitude of the chaos created by Biden’s open-border policies,” Abbott said on Fox News Thursday.

“They’re up in arms about a few thousand people coming into their communities over the past few months? Listen, in any one sector in the state of Texas, we have more than 5,000 people coming across in that sector every single day,” Abbott continued.

Similarly, Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser requested National Guard troops last month to deal with what she called a “humanitarian crisis” of just over 6,000 migrants being bused to the capital from Texas since April.

Mayor Bowser / Facebook

Bowser, a staunch supporter of the region’s sanctuary city policy, claimed the migrant buses were a “tipping point” for Washington, DC, even as they pale in comparison to the level of illegal immigration that American border towns are forced to deal with under the Biden administration.

In Texas border towns alone, nearly 130,000 border crossers and illegal aliens were caught crossing the border in June. Most recently, in the small town of Normandy, Texas — with a population of just 29 residents — about 400 border crossers and illegal aliens crossed into the area this month.

Emma-Jo Morris is the Politics Editor at Breitbart News. Email her at or follow her on Twitter.

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Open Borders Activists Balk at Red States Busing Illegal Aliens to Blue States

Open borders activists are balking at red states taking immigration enforcement into their own hands by busing border crossers and illegal aliens to blue states and cities like New York and Washington, DC.

In April, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that state officials would begin chartering buses to transport border crossers and illegal aliens to Washington, DC, and other cities.

As a result, Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser is asking President Joe Biden to deploy the National Guard after she said about 4,000 border crossers and illegal aliens have arrived in the region over the last few weeks.

Illegal immigration to D.C., Bowser said, is at a “tipping point.” Similarly, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has warned New Yorkers that illegal immigration to the city is likely to cripple the healthcare system and infrastructure as well as overwhelm schools and neighborhoods.

Now, mass migration activists argue that Abbott’s order may not be legal.

“There are ongoing questions about what authority they have to bus people from one location to another,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick with the American Immigration Council told the Texas Tribune. “Legally speaking, is that immigration enforcement? I still don’t know.”

The number of border crossers and illegal aliens arriving in D.C. and New York City pales in comparison to those arriving in America’s small border communities.

In Texas border towns, alone, nearly 130,000 border crossers and illegal aliens were caught crossing the border in June. Most recently, in the small town of Normandy, Texas — with a population of just 29 residents — about 400 border crossers and illegal aliens crossed into the area this month.

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Suspected Illegal Alien Charged with Raping 10-Year-Old Girl Who Traveled for Abortion

A suspected illegal alien is accused of raping a 10-year-old girl whose story was cited by President Joe Biden after she traveled from Ohio to Indiana to seek an abortion.

Gershon Fuentes, a 27-year-old suspected illegal alien, was arraigned in court on Wednesday after he was arrested and charged. He allegedly admitted to raping the 10-year-old girl on two occasions in Columbus, Ohio.

The girl traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, to get an abortion. A saliva sample was collected from Fuentes at the time of his arrest and detectives said DNA samples from him and from the girl’s siblings are being tested to verify the felony charges.

Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Dan Meyer told the media that Fuentes is believed to be an illegal alien living in the Columbus area. The Columbus Dispatch and the IndyStar both reported that Fuentes is suspected to be an illegal alien.

The Dispatch reports:

During Wednesday’s hearing, Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Dan Meyer requested Fuentes be held without bond. He said Fuentes is not believed to be in the country legally and there are questions about his identity. [Emphasis added]

The rape swept international headlines after Biden repeated the story twice during speeches at the White House. Biden cited the case as evidence that girls and women would have to travel out of red states to seek abortions following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last month.

“Ten years old. Raped. Six weeks pregnant. Already traumatized. Was forced to travel to another state,” Biden said. “Imagine being that little girl. Just — I’m serious — just imagine being that little girl.”

Despite Biden’s claims, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost noted that although Ohio has hugely limited abortion across the state, its law allows for medical emergencies which include cases like the 10-year-old girl who was raped.

“She did not have to leave Ohio to find treatment,” Yost said.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has not yet responded to a request from Breitbart News regarding Fuentes’s immigration background and whether the agency has placed a detainer on him so that if he is released from local police custody, he will be turned over to their custody for arrest and deportation.

Fuentes remains in the Franklin County Jail on a $2 million bail.

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Mexican President AMLO Lectures Americans: Reject ‘Conservatism,’ Accept ‘Transformation’

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) lectured American citizens on Tuesday, urging them to reject “conservative” and embrace “transformation.”

During a press conference with President Joe Biden, AMLO attacked “the conservatives” in the United States for their opposition to the administration’s globalist agenda on energy, trade, and immigration.

“I know that your adversaries — the conservatives — are going to be screaming all over the place, even to heaven,” AMLO said. “They’re going to be yelling at heaven.”

“In the face of this crisis, the way out is not through conservatism,” he continued. “The way out is through transformation. We have to be bold in our actions. Transform not maintain the status quo.”

Instead of defending Americans, Biden seemingly agreed with AMLO.

“We have liberals, moderates, conservatives, and extreme conservatives,” Biden said. “I’m waiting for the Republican Party to come back to traditional conservative positions. We have to start to talk with them, to one another, in this country, with respect.”

AMLO also suggested that “it is indispensable” for Biden and Congress to pass amnesty for illegal aliens living in the U.S.

“It is indispensable for us to regularize and give certainty to migrants that have for years lived and worked in a very honest manner, and who are also contributing to the development of this great nation,” AMLO said.

In May, more than 222,000 border crossers and illegal aliens were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border — the largest level of monthly illegal immigration since the Clinton administration. Since Biden took office, his administration has released over a million border crossers and illegal aliens into American communities.

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Illegal Aliens Plotted July 4th Mass Shooting, Thwarted by American ‘Hero Citizen’

The pair of suspects arrested for allegedly plotting to “shoot up” a Fourth of July celebration in Richmond, Virginia — thwarted by an American citizen — are illegal aliens, court records state.

On Wednesday, as Breitbart News reported, the Richmond Police Department announced the arrests of Guatemalan nationals 52-year-old illegal alien Julio Alvardo Dubon and 38-year-old illegal alien Rolman Balacarcel Ac for allegedly plotting a mass shooting at the city’s July 4th celebration.

According to Police Chief Gerald Smith, Dubon and Ac’s plan was thwarted thanks to an American “hero citizen” who overheard a conversation about the plot and subsequently called the police.

Court records, reviewed by the Associated Press (AP), identify both Dubon and Ac as illegal aliens living in the U.S. Specifically, Dubon had been living in the U.S. on an expired visa, as millions often do:

Police spokesperson Tracy Walker said both men are from Guatemala. Initial documents filed in General District Court in Richmond say both Alvarado-Dubon and Balacarcel are not in the U.S. legally. The documents, which say Alvarado-Dubon has an expired visa, did not include any details about the alleged plot. [Emphasis added]

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed to Breitbart News that agents have lodged detainers on both illegal aliens so that they will be turned over to the agency for arrest and deportation when they are released from local police custody.

Likewise, ICE agents confirmed that Ac is a twice-deported illegal alien who was previously deported in October 2013 and then later in August 2014.

Richmond Police Department

Illegal aliens Julio Alvardo Dubon and Rolman Balacarcel Ac were arrested in Richmond, Virginia for allegedly plotting a mass shooting on July 4th. (Photos via Richmond Police Department)

The American citizen who thwarted the mass shooting plot called police after he heard a man discussing a plan to “shoot up” Richmond’s annual Fourth of July celebration.

That is when police raided Dubon’s residence to find two rifles, a handgun, and 223 rounds of ammunition. Dubon was subsequently charged with being in possession of a firearm as an alien to the U.S.

After police reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Smith said they put surveillance on Ac who lived at the same residence as Dubon.

Photo via Richmond Police Department

Firearms and ammunition seized from Dubon and Ac’s residence. (Photo via Richmond Police Department)

Ac was then arrested and charged with being in possession of a firearm as an alien to the U.S. Smith said they still do not have a clear motive as to why the pair allegedly sought to conduct a mass shooting on American citizens on July 4th.

“There is no telling how many citizens this hero citizen saved from one phone call … one phone call saved numerous lives on the Fourth of July,” Smith said.

Dubon has been booked into the Richmond City Jail on a $15,000 bail. Though police said Ac was also booked, his records do not appear in the city jail’s records.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


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Exclusive–Angel Moms Slam Cornyn’s Talk of Amnesty: ‘Not a Joking Matter’

Angel Moms, the mothers of American citizens killed by illegal aliens, are slamming Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-TX) suggestion that Republicans are working on an amnesty deal with Senate Democrats.

This week, Cornyn suggested that he and Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) were working on a legislative plan that would provide amnesty to potentially millions of illegal aliens.

Cornyn later told Breitbart News in a statement that the remark was “a joke.”

Angel Moms who spoke exclusively with Breitbart News said the slightest hints of amnesty for illegal aliens out of Washington, D.C., are not a joking matter to them.

Angel Mom Mary Ann Mendoza, whose 32-year-old son Brandon Mendoza was killed by an illegal alien in May 2014 in Arizona, told Breitbart News that “there is no excuse for joking about working on an amnesty bill” when “the border is in complete chaos and an orchestrated invasion is taking place there.”

“American citizens don’t deserve to be second best to illegal aliens in our country … this is not a joking matter to Angel Families,” Mendoza said. “We have fought long and hard for our innocent loved ones killed by illegal criminals who weren’t vetted and who were repeatedly shown leniency in our courts.”

Brandon Mendoza (Photo via Facebook)

Brandon Mendoza (Photo via Facebook)

Angel Mom Sabine Durden Coulter noted that talks of amnesty in Washington, D.C., are often followed by massive waves of illegal immigration as the Mexican drug cartels use the news to entice foreign nationals to take the deadly journey to the United States-Mexico border.

“Any talk, mention, or whisper of amnesty creates a ripple effect to signal to illegal aliens inside and outside of our country, that there might be a deal,” Angel Mom Sabine Durden Coulter told Breitbart News. “That draws more to come.”

Durden Coulter’s son Dominic Durden was murdered by an illegal alien in July 2012 in the sanctuary state of California.


Dominic Durden, who killed by an illegal alien in 2012, and his mother Sabine Durden Coulter. (Photo courtesy Sabine Durden Coulter)

“Next month will mark 10 years since my only child, my son Dominic was killed by an illegal alien who didn’t suffer any consequences for being here illegally for years while committing crimes … why are American citizens last on the list of these politicians? What’s the payoff for them? Does the oath they swore mean nothing?” Durden Coulter said.

Angel Mom Kiyan Michael, whose 21-year-old son Brandon Randolph Michael was killed in 2007 by a twice-deported illegal alien, told Breitbart News that she “would recommend to Senator Cornyn that amnesty should always be off the table.”

“Any type of immigration reform should start with closing the border and vetting those who are coming into this country,” Michael said.


Brandon Randolph Michael (Photo via Brandon Randolph Michael Foundation)

Angel Mom Agnes Gibboney, whose 29-year-old son Ronald Da Silva was killed by an illegal alien in 2002, told Breitbart News that amnesty for illegal aliens previously failed to stop future waves of illegal immigration under former President Ronald Reagan in the late 1980s.

“We have done this, under President Reagan, and it proved to be a complete failure,” Gibboney said of amnesty. “The flow of illegal aliens has never stopped … those in charge are not respecting the wishes of their constituents.”

“We need to make our voices heard,” she continued. “We cannot be silenced, as our loved ones were by open border policies.”

(Photo via Agnes Gibboney)

Ronald Da Silva’s grave. (Photo via Agnes Gibboney)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) immediately rebuked Cornyn’s suggestion of amnesty, writing in a statement that such a deal is “a nonstarter” with a future House GOP majority.

Likewise, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN) wrote that House Republicans “are united and so are our voters” against amnesty for illegal aliens.

Today, there are anywhere from 11 to 22 million illegal aliens living in the U.S., costing American taxpayers more than $143 billion every year. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has long estimated that potentially 2,000 Americans are killed every year by illegal aliens.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


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Joe Biden Releases Over 1 Million Border Crossers into U.S. Since Taking Office

President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released nearly 1.05 million border crossers and illegal aliens into the United States since he took office in late January 2021.

In May, DHS released more than 95,000 border crossers and illegal aliens — a foreign population four times the size of Key West, Florida — into American communities as part of the Biden administration’s expansive Catch and Release network.

Since taking office, Biden has now released nearly 1.05 million border crossers and illegal aliens into the U.S. interior — twice the population of Wyoming, larger than the population of Austin, Texas, and twice the population of Atlanta, Georgia.

Biden’s Catch and Release network ensures that border crossers and illegal aliens arriving at the southern border are briefly detained before being released into the U.S. interior by way of buses and domestic commercial flights often paid for by taxpayer-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

As Breitbart News exclusively reported, sources at DHS have said that they are currently acting as a “full service travel agency” for border crossers and illegal aliens.

“We’re aiding and abetting illegal entry to the United States,” the source said. “We’re using government cars to transport people to American towns. It’s working like an Uber service.”

Biden has sought to end the Title 42 public health authority at the southern border that has been used by Border Patrol to quickly return illegal aliens to Mexico. A federal judge, appointed by former President Donald Trump, is blocking the end of Title 42 as the issue makes its way through the courts.

If Biden ends Title 42, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) has said some 18,000 border crossers and illegal aliens could be released into the U.S. interior every day, noting “that is the same as admitting a new state of Alaska every 40 days.”

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Border Dispatch, Part I: ‘Everyone Who Arrives Here Has Paid’

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series. Part two will be published next week.

REYNOSA, Mexico — We met Osniel at Senda de Vida, a massive migrant shelter situated on the south bank of the Rio Grande across from McAllen, Texas. The slender 23-year-old Cuban didn’t give us his last name, but did tell us he’d paid a coyote, or smuggler, $11,000 to leave his home country, transit through Central America and Mexico, and cross the border into the United States — twice.

Both times he crossed, though, he’d been arrested by Border Patrol and quickly sent back to Mexico under Title 42, the pandemic health order that allows U.S. authorities to expel illegal immigrants quickly, with minimal processing. When Osniel left Cuba in early April, Title 42 didn’t apply to Cubans. But that changed while he was en route.

On April 27, the Biden administration cut a deal with Mexico to begin expelling up to 100 Cubans and 20 Nicaraguans a day from three border facilities. For Osniel, it was just bad timing — he crossed the river on April 29.

“Title 42 was active under Donald Trump, and all this time, all this time Cubans were crossing over the river and entering with a humanitarian visa,” Osniel told me and a pair of colleagues, Emily Jashinsky and David Agren, who accompanied me recently to migrant shelters in Reynosa and Matamoros. “Now, Cubans keep trying to cross the river and they keep getting sent back.”

He said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do now. Having tried to cross the border twice, he couldn’t try again without paying the local cartel, and he had no more money. (Nearly everyone who crosses the Rio Grande in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, where Reynosa is situated, has to pay a tax to the cartels, which have been profiting handsomely from the arrangement.) 

Early the next morning, around 2 a.m., Osniel called David in a panic. He had swam across the river, he said, but hadn’t paid, and now feared he was being pursued by cartel gunmen. He said he was hiding on the north bank of the Rio Grande.

A GPS pin on WhatsApp showed he was just outside the town of Hidalgo, Texas, not far from the international bridge. He wanted David to call the police or Border Patrol to come pick him up before the cartel found him. David got ahold of the local police but they said it was Border Patrol’s responsibility, and no one picked up the phone at the McAllen Border Patrol station that night.

Osniel’s last communication, via WhatsApp, was at 5:52 a.m. The GPS pin showed he was on the U.S. side of the border, near the riverbank. We haven’t heard from him since.

In Northern Mexico, Illegal Immigration Has Become A Vast Black Market

Over the past year, illegal immigration along the southwest border has reached historic highs, with nearly 2.5 million arrests since last April. U.S. border authorities apprehended on average more than 6,725 illegal immigrants every day in April, the highest number ever recorded. (As of this writing, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has yet to release numbers for May, which will almost certainly be higher than April’s.)

(UPDATE: CBP released May numbers on Wednesday, June 15, after press time. There were a record 239,416 encounters with illegal immigrants along the southwest border last month, the highest monthly total ever, surpassing April’s record. So far in the 2022 fiscal year, about 1.5 million illegal immigrants have been arrested by Border Patrol. With four months remaining in FY2022, border arrests are almost certain to surpass 2 million.)

Why are so many coming now? We asked that question to every migrant we spoke to in Mexico and Texas, and nearly every one of them at some point said that they had heard it was a good time to come, that they would be able to get in. They’re not wrong.

What they find upon arriving in northern Mexico, however, is not what many of them expected. For some, like Osniel, Title 42 still represents a real obstacle (although since Joe Biden took office, fewer and fewer illegal immigrants are being expelled under its authority). All of them, though, are drawn into a vast criminal enterprise run by cartels that have in recent years transformed illegal immigration into an industrialized black market. Elias Rodriguez, director of a migrant shelter run by the Catholic Diocese of Matamoros, told us bluntly that “everyone who arrives here has paid.”

Indeed, migrants transiting Mexico must not only make sure they have paid whichever cartel controls the area of the border they intend to cross, they often have to pay off Mexican officials en route to the border. More than one person told us how the bus they were on was stopped in Monterrey, or outside Reynosa, and boarded by federal or state officials who asked for everyone’s papers. Those without papers had to pay.

Setting aside the impossibility of confirming these accounts, the proof of such official corruption on a mass scale is the mere fact that hundreds of thousands of migrants arrive at northern Mexican border cities each month. They are here, and they could have gotten here only by paying their way.

About 1,500 migrants are housed at the Senda de Vida shelter, including many families and small children.

Signs of this illegal immigration black market lurk behind nearly every individual migrant’s story. We don’t know, for example, why Osniel changed his mind about crossing the river. At the shelter, he told us he was going to wait there because it was too dangerous to leave. He said men had tried to assault him when he ventured out into Reynosa at one point, and that it wasn’t safe anywhere outside the shelter’s walls.

Maybe he realized there was no other way into the United States. Maybe he was unwilling to wait any longer at the shelter. He’d told us that he follows the news about U.S. border policy closely, so maybe he saw that a U.S. judge recently ordered the Biden administration to keep Title 42 in place instead of ending it on May 23 as planned.

Whatever changed Osniel’s mind, his plight is shared by tens of thousands of other migrants in Reynosa, Matamoros, and Mexican cities all along the border. They are caught between a black market smuggling industry run by ruthless cartels and a mercurial U.S. immigration bureaucracy that seems to adopt new policies and rules every week. 

For a certain segment of the migrant population in Mexico, that means they’re stuck. For those who can’t afford to pay the cartels, crossing the river without permission is dangerous. It’s unlikely that Osniel was actually pursued across the river by armed men, but he was lucky to slip by them in Reynosa and make it over to the north bank. In Matamoros, we were told of several migrant groups that tried to cross without paying, and cartel members actually went out into the river and forcibly returned them to the Mexican side.

Others simply refuse to cross illegally, even with the aid of cartel-affiliated smugglers. These are mostly Haitian migrants, and they make up the vast majority of those staying at the shelters in Reynosa and Matamoros. Many of them say they will not cross illegally because they fear being arrested and deported to Haiti, a country most of them left many years ago.

The vast majority of Haitian migrants now in Mexico had until recently been living legally in Chile, Brazil, and other countries in South America. Indeed, of the dozens of Haitian migrants we interviewed, not one had recently lived in Haiti, and none wanted to return there.

For these people, being deported back to Haiti — as thousands were last fall after CBP cleared the encampment near Del Rio, Texas — would be the worst possible outcome. So they wait in Mexican border towns for something to change.

One Haitian man we spoke to, Gerard Estinfils, was among a group of at least a hundred others waiting outside a migrant resource center near the international bridge in Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas, on a recent weekday morning, hoping to meet with a lawyer about applying for asylum in the United States.

Estinfils told us he has been in Mexico for ten months with his wife and three children, and they have no money left now. But even if they did, he said he would not pay a smuggler or a cartel to help him cross illegally. He says he and his wife have medical problems, and like some of the other Haitian migrants waiting outside the resource center that day, he hopes to get a medical exemption to enter the United States.

He might well end up getting such an exemption. We spoke to people who were recently discharged from CBP custody in Texas who had been admitted that way. But there is only so long people like Estinfils, who had been living for years in Chile before traveling north, can safely wait in these Mexican border towns. (The U.S. State Department issued a “do not travel” advisory for the entire state of Tamaulipas last June that is still in effect. It forbids U.S. government employees from traveling between cities in Tamaulipas using interior Mexican highways, citing “gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault” activity along the northern Mexican border.)

All of which to say: it’s not safe for Estanfils and his family to be living in these streets, but that’s where they are for the simple reason that there are not enough shelters in these cities, and more people are arriving every day.

At Overcrowded Migrant Shelters, Confusion And Frustration Reign

The day after we met in Matamoros, Estinfils messaged me on WhatsApp. He had seen me and my colleagues at the Sende de Vida shelter in Reynosa, where he had brought his family, hitching a ride from Matamoros from “a servant of God.” He said they left Matamoros because they had no food and nowhere to stay, and were hoping to get into the shelter.

What they found at Sende de Vida was chaos, confusion, and false hope. When we arrived that same day we saw hundreds of people lined up outside the shelter, waiting to get inside. A mood of confusion and frustration prevailed.

Every person we spoke to had been waiting for days in triple-digit heat. They were under the strong impression that there was a list inside the shelter, and that if you got on that list, you would eventually be bused to the international bridge downtown and be admitted to the United States. For that reason, most of them did not want to leave the immediate vicinity of the shelter, despite a lack of food and water and housing of any kind, for fear of losing their chance to get inside and get on the list.

But it wasn’t true. There’s no such list inside the shelter. After we convinced the men guarding the heavy steel door to let us in so we could meet with Pastor Hector Silva, who runs the place, we learned that there is only a waiting list to get into the shelter, not to get into the United States. 

Silva told us that the busloads of migrants who leave his shelter every day for the United States (on average, about 120 a day) are selected by CBP with the aid of immigration lawyers and nonprofits. He says CBP officials text him daily, sometimes multiple times a day, the names of migrants who qualify for admittance under America’s byzantine immigration laws. Silva finds these people in his shelter, tests them for Covid, and lines them up in the courtyard with their possessions before loading them onto a yellow school bus and, at least on the day we were there, drives them to the international bridge himself.

Migrants prepare to board a bus that will take them to an international bridge in Reynosa, where they will enter the United States.

The shelter is a ramshackle compound that’s become in effect a walled village, housing about 1,500 people. Children are everywhere, running and playing. The adults loiter in tents and under shaded awnings. Hundreds of tents are packed wall-to-wall in two outdoor courtyards. In Silva’s office, a small staff works ceaselessly to identify people who can be bussed out of the shelter and to the bridge, so more people outside can be admitted.

Haitians make up a majority of residents at the shelter, but many other nationalities are present too. In Silva’s office, we met a couple from Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), Russia. They said they were journalists and fled the country after they spoke out about the war in Ukraine and were threatened by the police. They spoke no English or Spanish (we communicated through Google translate) and appeared to have no plan to get into the United States. Silva said he has had many Russians and Ukrainians come through the shelter since the spring.

The Russians, though, had this in common with nearly everyone at the shelter: none of them knew how they were going to get into the United States. I spoke to a man from Honduras, Hector, who left his home six weeks ago. His wife is already in the United States, he said, in Texas.

Like many others here, he spent what he had to pay smuggler to get him this far, and now he has no money for a lawyer. He told me he plans to stay at the shelter for two more weeks. If nothing happens, he’s going to swim across the river. 

“Everything depends on my luck,” Hector says. “Am I lucky? Okay. But I don’t know.” I ask him if he’s going to pay anyone if he decides to swim across the river.

“No,” he says, shrugging. “I don’t have any money.”

John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.


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