“Pseudo-legitimate” travel agencies are emerging in Senegal and offering migrants a “complete package” to get to the United States‘ southern border, where millions have tried to get into the U.S. illegally, officials said this week.
A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official told Fox News that the agencies are emerging in cities like Dakar, Senegal’s capital, and offer free travel to Europe to Senegalese nationals.
Those agencies offer visa-free travel to Europe, which then allows them to move from there to the Western Hemisphere, where they can travel to the U.S. and either try to get in at a port of entry using the CBP One app – where 1,600 are let in each day – or enter illegally between ports of entry in hope of being released into the U.S. with a court date in the distant future.
“They sell complete packages to connect them to a smuggling organization that will then facilitate their movement up to the border,” the official said.
CBP said it is working with partners throughout the hemisphere and across the globe to make sure they are encouraging people’s ability to access protections, while also taking action to prevent those seeking to exploit different travel mechanisms.
The Senegalese travel agencies offer a glimpse of the global nature of the migrant crisis and how migrants from across the globe are being pulled to the U.S.-Mexico border. Beyond countries in the Western Hemisphere, U.S authorities have encountered migrants from over 150 countries coming to the border hoping to be processed and released into the interior.
Meanwhile, the traffic at the border is not slowing down. On Friday CBP announced that there were 242,418 migrant encounters at the southern border in November, including migrant encounters at ports of entry and illegal immigrant encounters by Border Patrol between ports of entry. That is the highest November on record and the third-highest month of the crisis so far.
Announcing the November numbers, acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said that the agency is facing a “serious challenge” and that it and federal partners need more resources from Congress as requested in the supplemental funding request.
Meanwhile, new data released this week from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University showed that the immigration court backlog now stands at over three million.
Sources have also told Fox News that Border Patrol has released more than 386,000 illegal immigrants into the U.S. with Notices to Appear since October.
Republicans have criticized the administration for releasing migrants into the interior and have called for greater restrictions on asylum and the use of humanitarian parole by the administration. The administration has said it is dealing with a hemisphere-wide crisis and needs more funding and comprehensive immigration reform to reduce backlogs and fix a “broken” system.
There are ongoing negotiations in Washington about the Biden administration’s request for supplemental funding – including $14 billion for border funding. But Republicans have demanded more asylum restrictions, something that some Democrats have called on the Biden administration to reject.
While there had been hope of securing a deal before the end of the year, lawmakers have said this week that there won’t be a deal until January at the earliest.
Fox News’ Griff Jenkins contributed to this report.