Border officials have been inundated this week with illegal immigrants seeking asylum from Mexican drug cartels. Because of this unusual preponderance, officials in San Diego have used taxpayer funding to cover overtime and to put up many immigrants in nearby hotels.
The convergence of hundreds of requests and the similarities in their stories have led officials to suspect the influx might have been orchestrated. Illegal immigrants, taught how to game the system by using a few key words, might overwhelm border security and gain residence. Specifically, immigrants are using the phrase, “credible fear of persecution,” with reference to threats from drug cartels.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, “Credible fear determinations are dictated by long standing statute, not an issuance of discretion … If the credible fear threshold is met, the individual is placed into removal proceedings in Immigration Court. The final decision on asylum eligibility rests with an immigration judge.” However, with 91 percent of requests for asylum denied, many never show up in court.
“This clearly has to have been orchestrated by somebody,” said Peter Nunez, former U.S. Attorney for Southern California. “It's beyond belief that dozens or hundreds or thousands of people would simultaneously decide that they should go to the U.S. and make this claim.”
However, there is little border officials can do at the moment. Many have been asked to volunteer during the weekend while some illegal immigrants have been sleeping on the floors. While most were from Mexico, some immigrants hailed from Haiti, Romania, Guatemala and Iraq. Dozens of illegal immigrants were escorted to a nearby hotel costing roughly $99 a night.
It is difficult to know exactly, but studies estimate that 69 percent of illegal immigrants are from Mexico and 24 percent live in California. In a single year, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are apprehended by Homeland Security and many are repatriated.