A total of 31,485 Turkish citizens fleeing Turkey have entered the United States via the Mexican border since 2020, Voice of America (VOA) Turkish service reported, citing official data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
According to the figures, 1,944 Turkish citizens entered the US by way of the Mexican border to seek asylum in 2020, 4,989 in 2021 and 24,362 in 2022.
In the last three years, 253 children from Turkey entered the country with their families, and 23 unaccompanied children entered the US through the Mexican border.
According to VOA, Turkish citizens who entered the US through the Mexican border are in the final stages of seeking asylum in court because of discrimination in Turkey due to their political beliefs or gender or religious preferences.
Those who arrive in the US from Mexico as asylum seekers are mostly put in detention centers in Arizona or Texas after being detained. If an asylum seeker is sponsored by a US citizen, the applicant is released from the detention center within one week to one-and-a-half months.
An unnamed expert on border security said the country has seen an unprecedented number of Turks at the border that is increasing every month, including well-educated people including doctors, engineers and lawyers.
”The entry of a Turk to the US from the Mexican border can cost up to $10,000 with the money he gives to the middlemen. For these people, once they are put in detention centers, a sponsorship phase begins. Someone has to be a sponsor for them to enter the country. The Turks have set up their own sponsorship mechanisms. Organized criminal gangs have also emerged to find sponsors for Turks in the country. Turkish gangs find sponsors for between $3,000 and $5,000 for Turks in detention centers and help get them released,” the expert told VOA Turkish.
Among those entering the US through the Mexican border are citizens from various countries. Most notably, citizens from Latin American countries enter the US through the Mexican border to seek asylum.
Migration from Turkey to Europe and other Western countries has intensified since 2016 due to the Turkish government’s purge of political opponents in the wake of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Most of the Turks seeking asylum in Greece are reportedly sympathizers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.
Thousands of people fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt carried out by the Turkish government against alleged members of the Gülen movement after the coup attempt. Many have tried to leave Turkey illegally since the government had canceled the passports of thousands of people.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.