The Texas city of San Antonio is bracing itself as hundreds of African migrants crossing from Mexico are set to be released into the city following their arrest near the border crossing in Del Rio. The city officials have 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 on Thursday.
“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.
San Antonio has been forced to open a second migrant resource facility to host the migrants who are also being supported by local churches and nonprofits.
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.