Caravan Migrants Paying up to $10,000 to Be Smuggled into the US
Organized crime groups are taking advantage in a $2.5 billion industry
Would be migrants from Central American countries are reportedly paying criminal smugglers $7,000-$8,000 each to bypass U.S.-Mexico border officials and reach the US.
According to the country's top border official, some migrants are paying as much as $10,000.
Organized crime groups are taking advantage of vulnerable families in a $2.5 billion industry that promises they can gain asylum.
Thousands of caravan migrants striving to gain entry into the United States are made up of "mostly men," 90 percent of which don't qualify for asylum.
Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan insists the average payment to smugglers is increasing,
"We're looking at $5,000-$10,000, $7,000-$8,000 on average and increasing every year," McAleenan said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
McAleenanadded that criminal organizations make $2.5 billion annually by smuggling people through the border, although the figure includes drug smuggling and other operations.
In November, at the height of the migrant caravan march towards the US, the highest number of people illegally entering the U.S. from Mexico since President Trump took office.
CBP counted more than 62,000 people.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was recently inaugurated as Mexico's new president addressed 'push factors in Central America' a significant focus of his first few days in office, according to McAleenan.
'Push factors' are reasons that might motivate someone to leave a certain area, as opposed to 'pull factors,' which are reasons that might motivate someone to come to a specific area.
Current push factors in Central America constitute record high homicide rates, sexual and domestic abuse, gang violence, and lack of protection from the government for its people US News & World Report states.
Aside from smuggling, more people have died passing the border from Mexico to the US in the initial seven months of 2017 compared to the year before, according to the United Nation’s migration agency.
Migrants deaths at the border jumped 17% from 204 in the first seven months of 2016 to 232 migrant fatalities in 2017.