Instead of spending thousands on smugglers, some migrants are buying cars to drive toward asylum

Border Report Tour

TIJUANA (Border Report) — Instead of paying up to $18,000 dollars to a smuggler to get them north of the border, some migrants are pooling their money and investing it in cars and driving them into ports of entry, where they can ask for asylum.

The strategy seems to be working for many.

“I heard of a woman with two kids who bought a car and drove it to the border,” said Angelica in Spanish. “She asked for asylum and is now living on the other side.”

“They are buying cars and crossing the border,” said Alma in Spanish.

Both Alma and Angelica are staying at a shelter in Tijuana.

Word is spreading through many shelters along the border about how it’s possible to purchase a car and drive it through a border crossing where one can ask for asylum.

Albert Rivera runs the Agape Shelter for migrants in Tijuana. (Jorge Nieto/Special for Border Report)

The way it works, according to those familiar with the process, when migrants get to the gates, they admit to not having any documentation or permission to enter the United States. This prompts an automatic trip to secondary inspection, where the migrants ask for asylum.

The trend is reportedly nothing new, but what makes it different is the people who are now trying it.

“It started with Ukrainian and Russian immigrants,” said Albert Rivera, who runs the Agape Shelter in Tijuana. “Now, Central Americans and migrants from Mexico are taking advantage of it.”

Border Report reached out to the Department of Homeland Security to confirm whether these types of crossings are happening. Our requests for comment were not answered.

Ricardo is a recently deported migrant staying at a Tijuana shelter. (Jorge Nieto/Special for Border Report)

But if you ask Ricardo, who was recently deported and has been staying at a shelter for a few weeks, he’ll tell you it’s definitely taking place and with great success.

“A lot of people are crossing the border that way,” said Ricardo in Spanish. “Who wants to pay $18,000 to a smuggler, we’ve always known about this.”

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