Migrants buying 1-way airline tickets from McAllen to northern destinations

Texas

McALLEN, TEXAS (Border Report) — Migrants who cross the Rio Grande into South Texas and are processed through Customs and Border Protection typically have taken buses to northern U.S. cities. But there is a new trend starting to emerge in McAllen, Texas, as more migrants are purchasing one-way airline tickets to their American destinations.

This has resulted in a surge of out boarding — or one-way tickets — from McAllen International Airportso far this year, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling tells Border Report.

“We’re seeing one-way north so that results in our out boarding being greater numbers,” Darling said.

So far in 2019, airplane enplanements at McAllen International Airport have increased every month compared to 2018. Month-to-month increases from 2019 to 2018 have ranged from 13 percent in January; to 18% in March; to 24 percent in May, to 26 percent in June, which is the last month that data was provided.

Likewise, the airport has also seen an increase in arriving passengers to McAllen. However, those figures hover around 9%, not double-digit percentile increases.

Passengers boarding a 6:15 a.m. flight on July 30, 2019, are seen in McAllen International Airport. Many were immigrants from Honduras. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez).

“They get a sponsor and the sponsor may have money for airfare — usually the immigrant doesn’t — but the sponsor they’re going to does. So that’s why usually you see a lot of kids (flying). It’s family members primarily,” Darling said.

A family of migrants from Honduras await a 6:15 a.m. flight from McAllen International Airport to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on July 30, 2019. Inside their bag are documents requesting help from English speakers and travel information. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez).

A Border Report reporter observed on a 6:15 a.m. flight from McAllen International Airport to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on July 30 that the majority of travelers were immigrants. Many carried folders written in large letters for someone to “HELP” them. These folders are typically carried by migrants boarding buses, but this time instead of the folders asking for bus route help, it indicated airplane routes.

A folder given to a migrant at the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen is seen in this file photo from July 15, 2019. (Border Report File Photo/Sandra Sanchez).

The majority of travelers approached by Border Report said they were from Honduras and were traveling to cities they had never been to before, including Phoenix, Arizona, and San Jose, California.

Some had no shoelaces, which is a telltale sign that they have been held in CBP detention facilities where shoelaces are removed to safeguard migrants from hurting themselves, CBP officers have explained. Most had no luggage other than drawstring bags.

None who were approached spoke English, nor had ever flown before. They did not understand how to board by groups onto the plane.

A 10-year-old girl from Honduras who was traveling with her mother, father and elder sister, learned the word “seat” and showed many of them the word on their tickets and explained that meant where they would sit on the plane. She also showed them the word “group” and explained how they were to board by group numbers. She smiled brightly and told Border Report this was their first time flying.

At the Dallas Airport, one father with his 10-year-old son did not know how to catch the Skylink train atop the airport, and when taken there he asked if it would cost money.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.

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The mission of BorderReport.com is to provide real-time delivery of the untold local stories about people living, working and migrating along the U.S. border with Mexico. The information is gathered by experienced and trusted Nexstar Media Group journalists hired specifically to cover the border.