Over the weekend, new reports at the United States border revealed that thousands of West African migrants are pouring into the country thanks to social media helping to spread the word about unknown paths through Nicaragua.
According to multiple media outlets, Mauritians have been using popular social media apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and other channels, to direct fellow migrants along the route, stopping at Turkey, Colombia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, where they are carried onto a bus by smugglers to cross the U.S.-Mexican border.
U.S. officials say the influx was unexpected and comes as around 2,000 to 3,000 migrants each week are entering the U.S. via Texas.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data from March and June, more than 8,500 Mauritanians arrived by crossing the border illegally from Mexico, which has increased by 1,000 in the last few months this year.
“The entire world knows that under the Biden administration, our borders are wide open and that coming to the U.S. illegally will be accommodated and rewarded,” explained Ira Mehlman, media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
“The Biden policies are also being exploited by our adversaries throughout the world who are more than happy to use them to cause disruption and destabilization in the U.S.,” he added.
Officials say the new arrivals will outnumber the estimated 8,000 foreign-born Mauritanians in the U.S. With many Mauritanians fleeing their country from natural disasters, military coups, and economic collapse, smugglers have taken to social media to promote the journey, advertising packages of flights that follow new routes.
On social media outlets like TikTok, smugglers have advertised the American dream with photos of Nicaraguan visas.
Speaking to the New York Post, Aissata Sall, a 23-year-old nurse who made her way to Cincinnati after discovering the Nicaragua route on WhatsApp, said she was robbed of her remaining money on a bus in Mexico by men dressed as police officers before she was hospitalized for dehydration.
Many migrants say the trip is worth escaping reported state violence directed against Mauritanians. According to reports, Nicaragua has relaxed entry requirements allowing Mauritanians and other foreign nationals to purchase a low-cost visa without proof of onward travel.
“The Ortega regime is happy to hand out visas to people from all over the world seeking to use Nicaragua as a staging ground for the final leg of their journey to the U.S. border,” Mehlman told The Foreign Desk. Mehlman notes that the “vital public and national security interest of the U.S. is being sacrificed to the Biden administration’s relentless effort to advance its open-borders policies.”
Despite calls by lawmakers in Congress to secure the U.S. southern border, the Biden White House continues to maintain that the situation at the border is under control. Yet, according to reports, since President Biden’s inauguration, Border Patrol officials have encountered around 6.9 million migrants, with 1.7 million escaping custody and settling in the country.