SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Russian nationals have been getting most of the asylum interviews and access to the United States in the San Diego Sector using the CBP One app, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Migration.
Since the Department of Homeland Security announced that CBP One would be the primary method for asylum-seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border to preschedule appointments for processing, INM says that more than 15,000 migrants in the Baja California area have registered and successfully received appointments.
Enrique Lucero, director of Tijuana’s Migrant Affairs Office, says 6,645 Russians have landed appointments followed by 2,700 Haitians, 1,864 Mexicans and 1,844 Venezuelans.
“It’s connectivity,” says Lucero. “The Russians have better phones and can connect faster to the internet. They’re also more familiar with technology.”
Pastor Albert Rivera, of the AGAPE Shelter in Tijuana, agrees with Lucero.
“Mexicans and people from Latin America and others from Third World countries carry older phones that are not on the updated bands,” said Rivera. “The Russians and Ukrainians have G5 phones that are faster, making it easier to secure appointments.
Rivera said the U.S. has an added incentive to give out asylum to Russian migrants.
“The United States is interested in giving asylum to Russians for many political reasons, including the fact that it wants to learn more about what the Russian people are thinking and things that may be going on in Russia,” he said.
Lucero says there are about 6,000 migrants scattered at shelters throughout Tijuana waiting for appointments.
“Russians, for the most part, don’t stay at shelters. They have more money and stay at hotels or rent apartments. They also have access to more legal resources and advice than other migrants.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not confirmed the figures provided by INM or the Migrant Affairs Office in Tijuana.
According to CBP figures, during fiscal year 2023, which began Oct. 1, CBP officers from the San Diego Office of Field Operations have encountered 14,937 Russians, half of whom were single adults and half family units. The vast majority of Russian migrants encountered this fiscal year were processed under Title 8 and placed in removal proceedings in the U.S. CBP data shows that only three Russians have been expelled back to Mexico under the Title 42 public health order, which is set to expire on May 11.
Border authorities nationwide encountered 36,72 Russians in all of Fiscal 2022. The number of encounters has been growing steadily since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, with a high of 9,229 in December.