It’s a long and little-known journey for migrants from Europe’s largest ethnic minority, who are arriving by the dozens each day via the U.S.-Mexico border, due in part to the fact that they don’t need visas to travel to Mexico.
Like many fleeing hardships in Central America, the Romanian migrants say they are escaping discrimination and racism.
Among the hundreds of Central American migrants crossing the Rio Grande river daily on rafts from Mexico to Texas, dozens stood out on a recent day.
Dozens stood out on a recent day.
They were generally taller and some wore skirts and tracksuits.
When U.S. border patrol officers who apprehended them near the river tried to speak to them in Spanish, some of the border crossers explained in broken English that they were Romanians.
These are ethnic Roma migrants -- Europe’s largest ethnic minority who have a long history of social exclusion and discrimination… They’re arriving by the dozens in the U.S. via Mexico among the hundreds of Central American migrants who make the journey each day along the Rio Grande.
Scores have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas in recent weeks to seek asylum, highlighting the far-flung origins of some of the migrants who have contributed to border arrests in recent months reaching a 20-year high.
The migrants said they were fleeing racism in Romania and wanted to seek asylum in the United States.
Border patrol agents have apprehended more than 2,200 so far in 2021, according to government data.
Current arrivals are on pace to be the highest since 2007, the earliest year for which citizenship arrival data is available.
According to Romanian media reports, many Romanian migrants fly from Paris to Mexico City as tourists as they do not need visas to enter Mexico.
Then smugglers take them by bus to the U.S. border where they cross the Rio Grande by boat or raft.
The Romanian government said it had not been notified by the United States about any detained citizens but said its embassy officials have contacted local authorities after reading media reports.