Illegal immigrants from Brazil are streaming across the U.S.-Mexico border at astronomical rates, Homeland Security officials said Wednesday, calling them a unique strain on the nation’s border defenses in southern California.
Agents in the San Diego sector have caught more than 1,000 Brazilians every month since April. That’s a 114,000% increase over the same time in 2020, the Border Patrol said.
The Brazilians are part of a massive wave of migrants from outside Mexico and Central America who are rushing the border right now, confounding the Biden administration’s attempts to pin the current surge on difficult economic and security conditions in those regions.
While Border Patrol agents are trained to speak Spanish, Brazilians speak Portuguese, making it more difficult to process them, and the sheer numbers have created a major challenge as agents deal with a broader surge of people. That means more agents are pulled off patrolling the border to help with the processing.
While the typical payment for a Mexican to be smuggled into the U.S. is about $8,000, and Central Americans typically pay $9,000, the typical payment for a Brazilian runs to $20,000, according to The Washington Times’ database of smuggling cases.
Brazil has also become a transit point for migrants from much further afield. In recent years authorities have busted several smuggling operations that helped people get from Middle Eastern and Asian countries over to Brazil, then up the spine of the hemisphere to reach the U.S.-Mexico border.
In June, the last month for which data have been released, agents across the southwestern border made 47,224 arrests of migrants from beyond Mexico and the key Central American nations of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. That’s three times higher than the rate in June 2019, at the height of the previous border surge.