Reports indicate that about 300 African migrants who entered the U.S. through the Mexican border crossing in Del Rio, Texas in June have departed San Antonio to various destinations in the country by bus.
After claiming asylum following their surrender to Border Patrol agents, the African migrant families were not turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement but were released onto the streets of Eagle Pass and Del Rio, reports the Washington Examiner which cites two government and nongovernment officials.
According to San Antonio Interim Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger, the African migrants bought bus tickets to either San Antonio or Austin and departed the city for destinations across the country based on hope.
“They come with a place in mind. ‘My friend told me to go to Portland, Maine, because there’s a lot of Congolese families that already live there and it’s welcoming,” said Nemeth. “And they have that plan in mind, right? But they don’t understand the geography — like where it is, how much it costs to get there,” explained Elizabeth Nemeth, executive director of Catholic Charities’ west side center, who told the Washington Examiner last Thursday.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions. They may think, ‘I have a friend there,’ but they don’t have a friend’s phone number … [We can look into] what is their last name, phone book, call shelter and ask about them, connect the dots. I wouldn’t say that we’re just putting them randomly. They have an idea,” she added.
She said the charities bought bus tickets for those who couldn’t afford them and for a family of five to seven looking to travel by bus to New York, it will cost $2,000.
Last week the San Antonio city officials announced the search for speakers of the widely spoken Central African language Lingala, French and Portuguese to help break the language barrier and help the migrants who are mainly from the Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.
“We didn’t get a heads up. When we called Border Patrol to confirm, they said, ‘yea another 200 to 300 from the Congo and Angola will be coming to San Antonio,’” the Interim Assistant City Manager Dr. Collen Bridger told local CBS affiliate KENS.
“If you speak primarily French and can come spend 6,7,8 hours, that would be really helpful,” he said, adding that the migrants began arriving in the city last Tuesday and had come with a group that went through Ecuador to the U.S. southern border to seek asylum.
“If you speak Lingala, you’d be very, very welcomed and very, very needed,” San Antonio immigration liaison Tino Gallegos told local ABC affiliate KSAT.
He said the city was forced to open a second migrant resource facility to host the migrants who are also being supported by local churches and nonprofits.
Ebola outbreak and false rumours
As many Africans come into the country, right-wing conspiracy sites are spreading rumours of Ebola spreading in the United States by the migrants from Ebola-struck DR Congo.
Twitter posts and stories on websites including Gateway Pundit and Breitbart have claimed several cases of the Ebola virus have been confirmed in Laredo, Texas, cited The Hill.
However, Texas officials have denied the rumours and in a Twitter post last Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) confirmed that the virus is not present. A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, Lara Anton, told The Hill that no one in Texas is currently being monitored for Ebola.
New route for African migrants
The surge in African migrants crossing the U.S. border from Mexico was noticed last month when U.S. border authorities were overwhelmed by a group of 116 illegal migrants from Africa who were caught on the night of May 30 near the border crossing in Del Rio, Texas.
This was the first time border officials have seen a large group of migrants from Africa taking advantage of the large-group tactic Central American migrants have learned to abuse, an official told the Washington Times.
The Customs and Border Protection agency said the group included migrants from Angola, Cameroon and Congo and it was the first time such a single large group from Africa has been encountered.
They comprised of children and families who were attempting to use the loophole discovered by Central Americans to enter the country illegally and escape deportation, reports WT.
Instead of presenting themselves at the port of entry, the migrants jumped the border, reports stated. Surveillance video released by the authorities showed the migrants crossing the Rio Grande as adults carried little children in water that us up to their waist while pulling other children alongside.
The authorities could not say the routes the African migrants used but they marked the 182nd large group since October 1 and the first African group to cross the border. All of them were declared healthy after screening.
Across all the U.S. borders, 4,500 people are caught every day, said Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan.