Illegal ‘Glam’ Migrants in Yuma, Ariz.

The Versace border jumper and the weight limit on migrants’ luggage show our humanitarian instincts are being abused

By Andrew R. Arthur on June 10, 2022

The Washington Times recently detailed findings made by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) after his recent trip to the Southwest border in Yuma, Ariz. There he saw a recently arrived migrant in a Border Patrol processing center wearing a high-end Versace dress, and was told that so many migrants arrive with loads of luggage that Border Patrol had to set a weight limit on the amount they can bring on government vehicles taking them to processing. It all led Lankford to conclude that well-heeled aliens are crossing illicitly “[b]ecause it’s easier to come in illegally into the country now than it is legally”.

Yuma Sector. The most recent Border Patrol staffing statistics reveal that there were 784 agents in the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector at the end of FY 2020 (it is doubtful the cadre has increased much there in the interim).

Agents work 50-hour weeks, meaning that at any given time there are fewer than 234 of them “on the line” in Yuma sector to cover an area of more than 181,600 square miles — including 126 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Those agents have been plenty busy of late, apprehending more than 177,250 illegal migrants in the first seven months of FY 2022 — a rate of 962 per day. Just 6.4 percent were from just across the border in Mexico, and a mere 4 percent more were from the “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Most of the aliens arriving in Yuma sector are “long-distance" illegal migrants.

Yuma’s Long-Distance Migrants. How far are those illegal migrants traveling to get to the sunny border city? This fiscal year, Border Patrol agents have apprehended 39,650 Cubans, more than 34,700 Venezuelans, nearly as many Colombians, almost 18,200 Brazilians, 6,212 Indian nationals, and 4,300-plus Nicaraguans.

CBP reporting on apprehensions breaks down migrants into 20 separate nationalities, and one catchall “other”. In FY 2022, Border Patrol agents in Yuma sector have caught nearly 11,250 of those “other” aliens.

How do those aliens get to the middle of the Sonoran Desert? The Times explains that many fly into Mexicali, Mexico, and then take charter buses to spots along the U.S. border like the “Yuma Gap”, a break in the border fence across from the Morelos Dam on the Colorado River I described in March.

As I explained then, illegal border-crossers congregate on the levee on the U.S. side of the Yuma gap waiting to be picked up by Border Patrol to begin their processing. There were even some chairs there for them to sit in when I stopped by, and bottles of water to drink.

Processing occurs at a largely hidden soft-sided facility behind the Yuma sector headquarters. From there, most are released into the interior of the United States.

Of the 114,240 Brazilians, Colombians, Cubans, Haitians, Indian nationals, Nicaraguans, and “others” apprehended in Yuma sector thus far in FY 2022, fewer than 4,000 — 3.4 percent of the total — were expelled under CDC orders issued under Title 42 of the U.S. Code in response to the pandemic. The rest are here indefinitely, if not forever.

Haute Couture and Heavy Bags. In my nearly 30 years in immigration, I have never before seen migrants coming across the border wearing haute couture styles more appropriate for the catwalk than the back roads. Under the Biden administration, however, such high-end attire is not exactly common, but it’s not rare, either.

One woman that I spotted walking from the banks of the Rio Grande in Del Rio in August had switched into a smart scoop neck sweater on the U.S. side, while others were shod in toney footwear. The House of Versace was a new one for me, but I assume that it is the new normal, too.

Nor at any point in the past three decades have I seen migrants schlepping more than a backpack. Airport roller bags were a regular sight in Del Rio, however, and for the Border Patrol to set weight limits on the amount of luggage that aliens can bring on its transport buses reveals that mine was not a one-off experience.

The Times refers to this as “glam migration” — a pretty apt tag. What I would conclude from Lankford’s descriptions and my own observations (and what the agents plainly know, too) is that few of these are the wretched refuse of anyone’s teeming shores. Most if not all are people who have made shrewd economic decisions in the past (or are the children of those who did), and for them, coming to the United States illegally in the Age of Biden is just the latest smart-money bet.

Again, some might have legitimate asylum claims, but they could make those claims in Mexico more easily than they can make them here. Another apt Times’ description is that “Yuma has become a key crossing point for well-to-do migrants from across the globe.”

That even those few upper-crust foreign nationals with valid claims would pick and choose their country of refuge is just the latest argument for limits on the American peoples’ humanitarian largesse. Only those coming here directly from the country of their alleged persecution should be allowed to apply for asylum in the United States.

The rest — the upper-class migrants simply seeking even better economic opportunities in this country — are just playing the American people for suckers. I believe in asylum, but I know my fellow citizens, too.

If refuge were only extended to the truly needy, the people of the United States would support it into perpetuity. When the asylum system is being abused by glam migrants in the latest fashions, however, you can expect Americans to pull back the helping hand — and likely sooner rather than later.