According to a recent report by Reuters, the number of Russians and Ukrainians traveling to Mexico, buying cars, and driving across the southern border into the United States to seek asylum is growing as the conflict in Eastern Europe shows no signs of slowing down.
In the four months between October 2021, and January 2022, Customs and Border Protection encountered approximately 6,400 Russians crossing the southern border. For context, that number is more than the approximate 4,100 encountered during the entire 2021 fiscal year. In addition, Reuters reports that the rise in numbers is also similar for Ukrainians with a little over 1,000 encountered in those four months - compared to about 680 encountered through FY21.
While these numbers continue to rise, they account for a small portion of the 670,000 aliens encountered by U.S. border officials in the first months of 2022 - with a majority of those still coming from Mexico and Central America. Moreover, while the administration says that it is expelling migrants from Mexico and Central America, almost all Russian and Ukrainian aliens have been allowed to stay in the U.S. while they pursue their asylum claims.
According to data published by the San Diego Rapid Response Network (a coalition of nonprofits, lawyers, and 'community leaders') Russians have usually been among the top three nationalities arriving at San Diego shelters - last week, Ukrainians were the third-most-common nationality at the SoCal shelters.
Nearly two million people have already fled Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, mostly heading to neighboring European countries like Poland. Still, Reuters reports that the "sheer speed and size of the exodus will exert tremendous pressure on these hosts and likely push some [refugees] further afield."
Meanwhile, the Russian government's crackdown on anti-war protesters in Russia and crippling personal financial sanctions against Russian civilians imposed by the West have led to a rise in migration pressures there, too.
"Would-be migrants from Ukraine and Russia are swapping tips on social media on how to make the journey to the U.S. southern border via Mexico to claim asylum," reports Reuters. The publisher adds:
Under a pandemic-era U.S. policy known as Title 42, most migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are rapidly expelled without a chance to claim asylum.
Those arriving on foot at official pedestrian crossings are usually turned back before they reach American soil. Vehicles are stopped less frequently.
Thus, some migrants are buying cheap cars in Mexico to enhance their chances of getting across the U.S. border to make their claims, according to former U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott. "It's a way to jump the line," he said.
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