posted on 06/27/2022 06:00
Laredo, Texas: in the image the Rio Grande, which borders Mexico – (credit: Rosana Hessel/CB)
San Antonio, Laredo and El Paso, Texas (USA) — Despite not being among the five nationalities with the highest volume of illegal immigrants in the United States, Brazilians always end up catching the attention of US officials. According to them, people coming from Brazil are different from immigrants from other countries.
“Many Brazilians are very well dressed, have a lot of nice suitcases and have money. They are not like typical immigrants trying to enter the country illegally,” says Gloria Chavez, head of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP, for the acronym in English) of the El Paso, Texas sector.
“We don’t see many Brazilians in this sector, but the interesting thing is that, when we meet Brazilians, they always show up with better clothes. I believe that most Brazilians try to enter other sectors, because I think they know that the area is quite violent in Mexican side, with many cartels”, adds the deputy head of the CBP division in Laredo, Greg Burnwell. According to him, among the 51 deaths recorded in this fiscal year, which started in October 2021, until May, there is no one of Brazilian nationality.
But, according to CBP data, the number of Brazilians trying to enter the United States grew again after 2020. However, Brazil is not among the five countries with the highest volume of illegal immigrants found by US authorities. Between April and May, for example, the number of illegal Brazilian immigrants jumped 60.8% to 5,404. According to official sources, the Brazilian state with the highest number of deportees is Minas Gerais, destination for flights chartered by the US government for repatriation.
Gloria Chavez, from CBP, recognizes that there are few Brazilian immigrants in the region and points out that criminal organizations always end up taking illegals wherever they find it easier to cross the US-Mexico border. “We started working with the Department of Homeland Security, investigating the interviews, and the State Department works in partnership with the government of Mexico to reduce the issuance of tourist visas”, says the director.
Brunwell recalls that the monitoring of the border in Laredo is done intensively, by about 1,800 agents in seven monitoring bases spread over the 135 miles (217.2 kilometers) of the border. They operate by land, river and air, including the use of drones equipped with night vision cameras. Drones can cost up to $100,000, depending on the equipment attached.
Officers warn of the risks of crossing and advise those in need of assistance to do so by phone, dialing 911, or pressing the red button on one of the 13 emergency towers installed along the border line, with instructions in several languages. , including Portuguese. As soon as the button is pressed, the rescue teams are activated and can arrive in at least half an hour.
Sources close to the US government say that many Brazilians, when caught, complain to the authorities that they paid (to human traffickers) to enter the US and think they have the right to stay because of that. Some set up fictitious families with false documents, with parents and children who do not know each other, and end up being discovered by immigration agents when the children are interviewed without the adults.
It is worth remembering that the United States is Brazil’s second largest trading partner, which has a trade deficit with the largest global economy. From January to May this year, the bilateral deficit totaled US$ 7.1 billion, 144.8% higher than the negative balance of US$ 2.9 billion recorded in the same period in 2021.
*The journalist traveled at the invitation of the US Embassy in Brazil