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Border & Immigration

Number Of Asylum Seekers At Border Higher Than Previous Estimates, New Research Says

A migrant and his children wait to hear if their number is called to apply for asylum in the United States, at the border in Tijuana, Mexico.
Gregory Bull AP
A migrant and his children wait to hear if their number is called to apply for asylum in the United States, at the border in Tijuana, Mexico.

The number of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border could be closer to 19,000, according to a new analysis from UC San Diego and the University of Texas at Austin.

The estimate is 5,000 more than figures reported by the Associated Press just weeks ago.

Number Of Asylum Seekers At Border Higher Than Previous Estimates, New Research Says
By Reporter Shalina Chatlani The number of asylum seekers waiting at the U.S.-Mexico border is nearly 5,000 more than estimates reported just weeks ago.

Researchers came up with the higher count by looking at more border cities, said Savitri Arvey, one of the lead researchers on the report from UC San Diego’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies.

“We looked at 13 cities across the border. And some of those cities had over 2,000 asylum seekers waiting, and so that really brought the numbers up,” said Arvey.

The cities in red hadn't been included in previous estimates on the number of asylum seekers waiting at the border, say researchers at UC San Diego and The University of Texas at Austin.
Courtesy of UT Austin and UC San Diego
The cities in red hadn't been included in previous estimates on the number of asylum seekers waiting at the border, say researchers at UC San Diego and The University of Texas at Austin.

That estimate means there could be even more strain on border points of entry, which are already under-resourced, she said.

“There’s only about 4,000 people who can stay in shelters in those 13 cities, so that leaves almost 15,000 asylum seekers without space and shelter. So, it’s just put a huge strain onto civil society,” Arvey said.

A number of new tent cities have opened up, including two in Texas at El Paso and in the Rio Grande Valley.

“We’ve seen that they’re even flying asylum seekers from Texas to San Diego, so there aren’t enough resources to process the number of asylum seekers arriving,” Arvey said.

She said she expects that number to go up in the coming months. The report finds the highest number of asylum seekers waiting at the cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez.