ISTANBUL, Turkey (Caasimada Online) – Over 250 Somali migrants found themselves stuck at Istanbul Airport this past Saturday following a botched effort to travel to Nicaragua and subsequently enter the United States illegally.
Their plight has been complicated by accusations of fraud involving Somali and Turkish intermediaries.
The travelers, originating from Somalia, India, and various African and Asian nations, paid between $4,000 and $6,000 each for their voyage, totaling two million dollars.
They secured an Airbus from Air Anka, a fledgling Izmir-based airline that initially provided cargo services in 2022 before obtaining authorization to transport passengers in January 2023.
Air Anka’s current fleet comprises two Airbus A330-220s and one A330-300.
Escalating migration trends
There has been a noticeable uptick in the number of Somalis, including prominent social media personalities, entering the United States illegally through Mexico in recent months.
The illegal migration of Somali youth, referred to as “Tahriib,” often involves human traffickers exploiting their desperation for improved living conditions.
While war-ravaged Yemen, the Middle East, Sudan, and North Africa were once the favored pathways for these migrants heading to Europe, the United States and Canada are now increasingly sought-after destinations, mainly due to their substantial Somali diaspora populations.
Social media platforms such as TikTok have been used to promote these risky journeys.
The FBI recently alerted Costa Rican officials to Luqman Warsame Farah, suspected to be the eldest son of Fuad Shangole, a top-ranking Al-Shabaab leader.
Farah was deported to Somalia after entering Costa Rica with a Swedish passport and attempting to cross into Nicaragua.
Security analysts widely speculate that his ultimate aim was to enter the US unlawfully.
As the United States contends with a growing influx of immigrants at its borders, the Biden administration is striving to change the incentives that promote illegal border crossings and encourage migrants to pursue legal entry.
With Title 42, a pandemic-related border restriction, set to expire in early May, the Department of Homeland Security has suggested a new rule to curb potential mass migration.
The administration intends to deny asylum claims from those who enter the country illegally, barring a few exceptions.
US tackles border issues
The United States is also working closely with regional allies to tackle the issue.
At a recent summit in Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed that Canada would accept an additional 15,000 refugees from the Western Hemisphere each year.
In return, Washington pledged to address a loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that had inadvertently encouraged some asylum seekers to traverse the US and enter Canada illegally.
Although the number of asylum seekers on the northern border is lower than on the southern border, approximately 5,000 individuals entered Canada from the United States in January alone, primarily through the Roxham Road crossing between New York and Quebec.