MIGRATION AT THE U.S./MEXICO BORDER
For the vast majority of people who wish to settle inside the United States, immigration options like skilled employment or family visas are extremely limited or unavailable. Because of that, applying for asylum at the border between the United States and Mexico represents one of the only entry options. Because of the amount of traffic the southern border receives, it is also one place where patterns and trends are closely tracked. For many decades, single adult males from Mexico comprised the bulk of migrants presenting themselves at border crossings. By 2019, families had replaced single adults as the dominant migrating unit, and most traveled from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. After the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, trends shifted again. By the middle of 2021, single adults made up 53% of border arrivals, a rising number of whom were Mexican nationals.
Migratory patterns to the U.S./Mexico border have ebbed and flowed over the years based on job availability, perceptions about the likelihood of entry into the United States, and the role of smuggling organizations that promise protections for travelers. Migration patterns also shift in response to disasters, conflict, and instability in countries of origin. In recent weeks, asylum seekers from Haiti, seeking relief from ongoing violence and instability in that country, traveled in large groups to the border; some were permitted to present their cases to an immigration judge, while others were returned to Haiti.