US Border Patrol Apprehends 6,530 Nicaraguans in May

A father carries his son to cross the border from Mexico to the United States. Photo: UNHCR

In May, Border Patrol agents arrested 6,530 Nicaraguan migrants who crossed the US border without a visa.

By La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES – Four months after the implementation of the humanitarian parole for the legal entry of Nicaraguans into the United States, the number of compatriots detained at the border after irregular border crossings continue to rise. In May, the number of people apprehended for entering without a visa reached the highest since the border closure to irregular migration was announced. This implies that most or perhaps all of these people were returned to Mexico or deported to Nicaragua.

According to the monthly report of the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in May, the Border Patrol detained 6,530 Nicaraguans who crossed the border irregularly. The figure is double the 3,323 apprehensions of Nicaraguans recorded in February 2023.

According to the regulations imposed by the United States in January, all persons who cross the border irregularly are returned to Mexico or deported to their country of origin. In addition, they are barred from entering the United States for the next five years.

Border Apprehensions Soar

February 2023 was the lowest number of apprehensions in the last two years. Since May 2021 when authorities reported the detention of 4,451 Nicaraguans, the number began to grow to 35,487 in December 2022. But between February and May of this year, it grew by 96 percent, when 6,530 detentions were reported. 

This unprecedented number in the history of Nicaraguan migration to the United States led to the implementation, as of January 6 of this year, of the humanitarian parole program for citizens of Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba, which since October of last year has benefited Venezuelans.

However, official information shows that Nicaraguan citizens are the ones who have taken the least advantage of the Parole program. This allows thirty thousand citizens from these four countries to enter by air each month. They can work and live legally in the United States for up to two years.

Lack of sponsors drives irregular migration

Obtaining the financial sponsorship that the program requires has become an uphill battle for many Nicaraguans. Additionally, the number of applications received exceeds the thirty thousand established quota, a saturation that considerably delays approval of the process. After the program’s announcement, in the first weeks, this was resolved in a matter of days, but now it takes several months.

Recently, the US TV network CBS News reported that some 19 thousand Nicaraguans have received the humanitarian parole while another 20,000 are awaiting a response to their application. However, this number is insignificant compared to the 1.5 million applications that, according to said network, have been received by US immigration authorities.

These insurmountable obstacles for many encourage irregular migration of Nicaraguans who continue to flee government repression or the economic crisis stemming from the political crisis. And in the absence of official information, it is impossible to know how many of these people returned to the country on deportation flights that, according to some organizations, arrive each week at Managua’s international airport.

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