One morning in January, five men from Nepal showed up at the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, looking for a bed for the night.
That’s odd, the shelter’s director, Father Patrick Murphy, remembers thinking.
This border city has been a gateway to generations of migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Mexico and Central America, people dreaming of a better life in the United States.
But Nepal was 8,000 miles away. What were they doing here?
Within months, Tijuana would be teeming with migrants from across the globe — from Haiti, India, Bangladesh and various parts of Africa — all hoping to reach the U.S.
In a surge Mexican officials are calling unprecedented, some 15,000 migrants from outside Latin America passed through Baja California this year — nearly five times the number seen in 2015.
More than a third of the detainees being held in California immigration holding centers in September were from outside Latin America, U.S. officials say.
As they traverse a circuitous and dangerous path up the spine of South America, Central America and Mexico, they have strained resources along the route and presented new challenges for securing America’s southern border.