McALLEN, Texas—Some illegal immigrants interviewed near the southern border say they were motivated to come to the United States by the Biden administration, while others cite death threats from “narcos” and disaster in their home countries.

“Suddenly, the situations during the previous years weren’t like this one. This year was much more difficult,” a Honduran migrant named Javier told The Daily Caller News Foundation after illegally crossing into the U.S. near the Hidalgo Point of Entry early Aug. 11.

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Javier said increasing “crime and a lot of insecurity,” including “extortions and death threats from the cartels,” motivated him to leave Honduras. He said it took him a little over a month to reach the U.S.

“The truth is, what motivated us to leave was the lack of safety and the economy was also very bad,” Javier told The Daily Caller News Foundation. 

He added that he wasn’t motivated by President Joe Biden’s election, but is “looking for more safety for our kids. We want the best for our kids.”

Another Honduran man traveling with Javier’s group said the Biden administration did not motivate him “at all.”

More than 4 million people were hit by two hurricanes in Honduras in the fall of 2020, and thousands were unable to return home as of June, The New York Times reported. The hurricanes resulted in at least $1.9 billion in damages, according to NBC News.

“I lost my house due to the hurricane in Honduras and, well, I’m a single mother. I can’t give my son what he needs in my country,” a Honduran woman said Aug. 7 after illegally entering the U.S. near La Joya. She declined to give her name for fear of retribution from gangs.

“I worked in politics and, well, my party lost and I had problems, lots of problems,” she said. “Then, in the community where I live there was Mara 18.”

Mara 18 is another name for the 18th Street Gang or MS-18, the violent criminal organization formed in California in the 1980s after young men fleeing the El Salvadoran Civil War were targeted by other gangs, according to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium.

“I wanted to start a business, and unfortunately, there were extortions and they came to my house, so I decided to come to the United States to give a better life to my son and my dad,” the woman said.

“The crime is horrible, you can’t even go out to work. All the places are marked,” a woman from El Salvador said after illegally entering the U.S. near La Joya. “You go into one place and you can’t go into another because you don’t come out alive.”

A male traveling with the group said it took the migrants around 15 days to reach the U.S.

Some illegal immigrants who spoke to The Daily Caller News Foundation shortly after entering the U.S. near La Joya on Aug. 7 said they have a “very good” impression of American politics and that the Biden administration “helps the migrants.” One person described Biden as the “best [president] there’s ever been.”

One man from Honduras said migrants decided to come now “because last year there was a president that was, like, racist and didn’t like the Latinos and this president is neutral and wants everyone.”

The people in the group, all traveling from Honduras, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that they plan on voting in U.S. elections if they get the chance.

Another man from Honduras said he didn’t think the Biden administration invited illegal immigrants to come now, but sent a message “that they would have the opportunity to work and study.”

An Ecuadorian man said he was mainly motivated by death threats from narcos, who he said “will find you in the nursery” or children’s day care. He said he was partly motivated by the change in administration in Washington, though he didn’t give a specific reason why.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials rerecorded a record high of 213,000 encounters with illegal immigrants at the southern border in July. The month of July saw record numbers of unaccompanied children totaling more than 18,900 and just under 83,000 family units.

“Many people are coming due to necessity, but not all of them. Lots of people are seeing that it’s easier to cross,” Luis Montesino, 60, of McAllen, Texas, told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Aug. 7 while waiting to pick up a friend from the temporary shelter holding COVID-19-positive migrants in Mission, which is near McAllen.

“Many people are hearing that the border is open so they’re taking advantage to come here,” Montesino said. “And they’re doing it. It’s happening due to the number of people per day.”

“In terms of politics in this situation, I think Trump was very strict, very hard. He was completely different,” he added. “President Biden is more flexible, he’s giving more opportunities.”

Of the illegal immigrants encountered by border agents in July, over 80,000 were apprehended in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, which includes La Joya and Hidalgo, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Around 42,000 of the total encountered in July were from Honduras and about 12,000 from El Salvador.

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