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30th Jan 2023

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

  • Over 2,000 Romanians were intercepted crossing from Mexico into the US in 2016 (Photo: rey perezoso)

US president Donald Trump's masterplan to build a wall along the Mexico border also appears aimed at stopping EU nationals from sneaking across.

Last week, US border patrol chief Rodolfo Karisch, told a US House committee that he's intercepted people along the Mexico border from 40 different countries, "including Bangladesh, Turkey, Romania and China".

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According to figures provided to EUobserver by the US Customs and Border Protection agency, almost 1,000 Romanians, including a handful of other EU nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK, were intercepted trying to enter the United States in 2017.

"People are traveling thousands of miles across hemispheres to attempt to illegally enter the United States, using the same pathways as Central Americans," said Karisch.

Data from the US Customs and Border Protection agency shows that Romanians top the list of EU nationals that tried to sneak into the country from either Mexico or Canada.

Although the numbers are comparatively small to the overall 310,000 figure, some 433 of those were Romanians caught on the Mexico border alone.

Another 450 Romanians were intercepted on the border with Canada and 13 tried to get in from the Atlantic and Pacific coast borders.

The figure on Romania marks a big drop from 2016 when over 2,000 were caught on the Mexico border alone.

Unlike most EU nationals, Romanians do not get a free pass to enter the US under its Visa Waiver Program. It means Romanians require a visa to travel to the US for tourism, business, and even transit.

According to the European Commission, US visa refusal rates for Romanians in 2018 were around 11 percent, far higher than for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Poland.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Poland in 2017 also required visas to enter the US. But few of their nationals were intercepted.

The US border agents registered zero nationals intercepted from Croatia, only one from Cyprus, five from Bulgaria, and nine Poles for the whole of 2017.

They also caught 15 Hungarians and 17 people from the United Kingdom, among others from Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.

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