The crisis at the US border with Mexico reveals that migrants are not only coming from Latin America. The number of Africans registered by Mexican authorities tripled over the first four months of 2019. On June 16, 2019, Reporting for the Associated Press, Andrew Selsky and Patrick Whittle wrote that “in one recent week, agents in the Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector stopped more than 500 African migrants found walking in separate groups along the arid land after splashing across the Rio Grande …. On a recent Saturday in Tijuana, there were 90 Cameroonians lined up to get on a waiting list to request asylum that has swelled to about 7,500 names. Also on the waiting list are Ethiopians, Eritreans, Mauritanians, Sudanese and Congolese.”
This is happening in the shadow of African migrants trying to enter Europe. That crisis was publicized when a CNN reporter documented the auctioning of African migrants in Libya, proof of a modern slave trade. This practice is continuing outside of the public view. Due to the fact that European nations are cracking down on immigrants, Africans are journeying to America via South America. Before the Europeans closed off their borders, African migrants would mass in Niger and Libya and go across the Mediterranean. The number of people who have lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean is unimaginable. The European Union has now invested in the Libyan navy to stop these migrants.
African migrants are making the journey across the South American continent to escape all kinds of situations in their home countries: wars, political instability, limited economic opportunities and much more. The United States appears to be a good option for these migrants.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Migrants leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in part due to ongoing violence from the Rwandan and Ugandan invasion of the DRC in 1996, following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Various rebel groups still operate in the former Kivu province making it one of the most unsafe places in the DRC. Also, the DRC has seen a decreasing of economic opportunities due to bad governance.
Migrants from Cameroon are in part escaping from the ongoing violence between the Anglophone citizens and the current government. Some are asking to separate from the rest of Cameroon and take their destiny in their own hands because the Francophone leaders have for far too long disregarded the needs of citizens in this part of the country. Others are asking for a federation. The war continues and no words can do justice to the level of killings and human rights violations happening there.
The world’s youngest country, South Sudan, has never known peace since its creation in 2011. Ethnic divisions and power struggle has plunged the country in chaos. Furthermore, we cannot rule out the fact that by the time the nation was created the leaders were not ready to lead a modern nation. For decades they had been at war for independence from Sudan for decades and knew only a life of organized rebellion built around the idea of killing. South Sudan is nothing other than a rebel controlled territory.. There is no end in sight to the crisis in South Sudan.
Migrants leave Senegal primarily due to economic conditions. Senegal used to just be a location for migrants from the African continent because they had a stable economy. Then neo-liberal economic policies in the 1980s, pushed by Europe and America, led to a weak economy with limited job opportunities. Neoliberalism encourages free trade where countries are encouraged to drive down prices so they can get sales. Driving prices down encourages businesses to go to places where they can have cheaper labor so they can produce cheaper goods.
Most African migrants get a visa for free passage that gets them to Mexico for twenty days and then they go across the southern border. South American nations like Brazil, Argentina, and Ecuador are popular starting positions for migration because they all have rights for migrants enshrined in their laws. Many of these Africans stay in a camp called Tapachula right next to the immigration offices of Mexico. In April this camp revolted in a televised protest where they called the Mexican government racist because they weren’t processing them. Mexican officials have been processing less of the migrants because they are backed up with the immigrants from Honduras and Guatemala.
The United States has known several waves of migration.. Migrants have come to the US from all over the world, including Africa. The treatment of migrant in US history is mixed. Some face discrimination and others find hospitality. Today’s American citizens, individually and collectively, have a choice before them: solidarity and hospitality or racism. There needs to be respect for rule of law and international norms on refugees and migrants to which the US signed on. Hopefully history will have positive things to say about today’s Americans in regards to their reaction to today’s immigration wave.