Over 32,000 Turks have entered US illegally via land borders since 2021

A US Border Patrol agent (L) leads migrants who crossed into the US from Mexico to a van for transportation in El Paso, Texas, on December 21, 2022. (Photo by Allison Dinner / AFP)

The number of Turkish citizens entering the United States illegally via the Mexican and Canadian borders has surpassed 32,000, Turkish Minute reported, citing official data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The statistics reveal that a cumulative total of 32,203 Turkish citizens entered the US illegally via land borders to seek asylum between fiscal years 2021 and 2023, with 1,373 people arriving in 2021, 15,360 in 2022 and 15,470 in 2023.

In the US, the federal government’s fiscal year is the 12-month period beginning on October 1 and ending on September 30 the following year.

Among the Turkish asylum seekers, 386 were unaccompanied children, referred to as “single minors.”

In line with the law, asylum seekers are detained by US border patrol agents upon their entry to the United States and then are taken to detention centers in Arizona and Texas. Following the completion of legal procedures, the asylum seekers are ordered to appear in court, in what could take years, following which they are either allowed to stay in the US or are sent back to their homeland.

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, Erdoğa designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch, which he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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