SALEM, Ore. The young man traversed Andean mountains, plains and
cities in buses, took a harrowing boat ride in which five fellow
migrants drowned, walked through thick jungle for days, and finally
reached the U.S.-Mexico border.
Then Abdoulaye Camara, from the poor West African country of
Mauritania, asked U.S. officials for asylum.
Camaras arduous journey highlights how immigration to the United
States through its southern border is evolving. Instead of being
almost exclusively people from Latin America, the stream of
migrants crossing the Mexican border these days includes many who
come from the other side of the world.
Almost 3,000 citizens of India were apprehended entering the
U.S. from Mexico last year. In 2007, only 76 were. The number of
Nepalese rose from just four in 2007 to 647 last year. More people
from Africa are also seeking to get into the United States, with
hundreds having reached Mexican towns across the border from Texas
in recent weeks, according to local news reports from both sides of
Camaras journey began more than a year ago in the small town of
Toulel, in southern Mauritania. He left Mauritania, where slavery
is illegal but still practiced, because its a country that doesnt
know human rights, he said.
Camara was one of 124 migrants who ended up in a federal prison
in Oregon after being detained in the U.S. near the border with
Mexico in May, the result of the Trump administrations zero
He was released Oct. 3, after he had passed his credible fear
exam, the first step on obtaining asylum, and members of the
community near the prison donated money for his bond. He was
assisted by lawyers working pro bono.
My heart is so gracious, and I am so happy. I really thank my
lawyers who got me out of that detention, Camara said in French as
he rode in a car away from the prison.
Camaras journey was epic, yet more people are making similar
treks to reach the United States. It took him from his village on
the edge of the Sahara desert to Morocco by plane and then a flight
to Brazil. He stayed there 15 months, picking apples in orchards
and saving his earnings as best he could. Finally he felt he had
enough to make it to the United States.
All that lay between him and the U.S. border was 6,000 miles
It was very, very difficult, said Camara, 30. I climbed
mountains, I crossed rivers. I crossed many rivers, the sea.
Camara learned Portuguese in Brazil and could understand a lot
of Spanish, which is similar, but not speak it very well. He rode
buses through Brazil, Peru and Colombia. Then he and others on the
migrant trail faced the most serious obstacle: the Darien Gap, a
60-mile (97-kilometer) stretch of roadl...