Migrants hoping to enter the United States are facing an increased risk of sexual violence as many wait in a dangerous region of Mexico before they can present themselves at a legal border crossing, according to a recent report.
Reuters reported last Friday that 2022 has seen a record number of criminal investigations into the rape of foreign nationals at the border cities of Reynosa and Matamoros, according to state data from 2014 to 2023.
Located south of the Texas border, Reynosa and Matamoros serve as major transit routes for immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. The cities are located in Tamaulipas, a state in Mexico that the U.S. Department of State advises travelers to avoid due to "crime and kidnapping."
Experts, including lawyers, survivors, aid workers and medical professionals, told the news agency that the increase in sexual violence is an unintended consequence of the new system the Biden administration launched in May for processing migrants.
The Biden administration launched a new system to combat the rise of illegal border crossings, allowing migrants to use a mobile application called CBP One to secure an appointment at a legal border crossing if they're seeking entry into the U.S.
The experts interviewed by Reuters said that many migrants hopeful of making an appointment via CBP One are attempting to cross the border on their own instead of paying a smuggler.
Criminal groups still demand payment, however, and one expert said these groups often rape migrants as part of a "torture process" to obtain money.
Some migrants also spend more time in the dangerous region as they wait to secure an appointment, which the experts cited as another likely reason for the increase in violence.
On June 30, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that more than 49,000 noncitizens presented themselves at ports of entry on the Southwest border from May 12 to June 23 after using CBP One to secure an appointment. CBP added that the number of available appointments for noncitizens had expanded from 1,250 per day to 1,450.
According to CBP's statistics for August, following the introduction of CBP One's appointment scheduling function in January, over 260,000 individuals have scheduled appointments, more of whom were Haitian, Mexican or Venezuelan.
In response to an inquiry from The Christian Post, a DHS spokesperson condemned the "inhumane" way that smugglers abuse, extort and perpetuate violence against migrants for profit.
"This is a reminder that criminal cartel networks control the paths of irregular migration," the DHS spokesperson told CP.
"That is exactly why this Administration has worked with our partners across the region and throughout the hemisphere to reduce irregular migration, to carry out the largest expansion of lawful pathways in decades, enforce our laws humanely, and to crack down on transnational criminal organizations."
The DHS spokesperson said more than two-thirds of individuals who recently used CBP One secured an appointment in less than eight weeks since expanding the number of appointments.
The spokesperson claimed that the application reduces the potential for smugglers to exploit migrants by allowing them to secure an appointment away from the border and contends that the application is working. The use of CBP One has caused Southwest Border port-of-entry processing to increase to "historic levels," the spokesperson added.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment.
A CBP spokesperson told Fox News that the total migrant encounters at the southern border for September were over 260,000, the highest monthly total ever recorded. While the numbers initially dropped in May after the end of Title 42, a measure that allowed border officials to quickly turn away illegal immigrants seeking entry into the U.S., the numbers increased again in July and August.
The migration issue has impacted other parts of the country as cities such as Chicago and New York City struggle to find housing for asylum seekers.
As The Associated Press reported Sunday, up to 500 people have lived inside a shuttle bus center at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Some migrants stay for weeks before they're moved to police stations or one of the few shelters available.
The city started using its two international airports as shelters following an increase in migrants, according to AP. Chicago has added 15 shelters since May and resettled around 3,000 people. However, city officials acknowledge that housing people at airports is intended to be a temporary solution.