SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Some migrants looking to cross the border are now relying on phone applications that provide instructions on how to unlawfully trek into the U.S., immigration officials and advocates say.
David Pérez Tejada, director of Mexico’s Institute of Migration in Baja California, says it might sound strange, but migrants are essentially purchasing different travel packages.
“They are sold complete packages for $10,000 to bring them from, say, Colombia all the way to Tijuana,” he said. “Then they are met with a guide who shows them where to cross and how to download further instructions.”
He says migrants get support through social networks such as WhatsApp and Telegram.
“They are using these digital platforms showing them routes, which are then shared with fellow countrymen,” said Pérez Tejada. “They also upload TikToks or Facebook (posts) detailing their crossings in real-time, so others know where to go.”
This use of technology by migrants is widespread, said Enrique Lucero with Tijuana’s Migrant Affairs Office.
He says it all comes with a steep price.
“When they are here in Tijuana, migrants find a smuggler who charges them $600 just to show them where the wall is,” said Lucero. “There are migrants from South or Central America who are paying anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000 to get across the border and for further digital instructions.”
When asked how the migrants can afford to pay for their journeys, Lucero said they often sell everything they own.
“Smugglers convince them to sell all their properties and tell them someone will greet them when they get here, which oftentimes doesn’t happen and they end up stranded in Tijuana.”