According to the U.S. Custom and Border Protection patrol, almost 1,800 Romanians have entered the country from the southern U.S. border in 2016. The trend is increasing sharply from fewer than 400 last year and just under one hundred in 2008.
The anti-immigrant feeling that exists in certain European quarters seems to be one of the reasons behind the surge in numbers of Roma fleeing to California, especially from Eastern European countries.
Since Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007 a considerable number of Roma moved to Western Europe, encountering increasing resistance from government and public opinion. In Italy, several Roma camps were set on fire around Rome, where the local xenophobic Northern League party is gaining electoral support through a permanent anti-Roma campaign.
In France, police have demolished Roma camps outside Paris and started repatriating them in 2010 under Sarkozy government.
Only recently in Hungary, a report by advisers to the Council of Europe, the continent’s top human rights body, said the practice of separate classes for Roma is ineffective and discriminatory.
The report noted a 2015 ruling by the Kuria, the supreme court, which “effectively declared segregation of Roma pupils legal in schools run by religious groups.”
The advisory committee said in the report that it was “deeply concerned by this development running diametrically contrary to principles of integration and equal treatment” and highlighted a rise in the segregation of Roma schoolchildren in recent years.
Therefore, Roma minorities in Romania and Bulgaria are starting to look at the U.S. as the new frontier for emigration, which is perceived as comparatively better in terms of willingness to accept them.
“People are getting desperate enough and trying to claim asylum here,” said Ethel Brooks, chairwoman of the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre and associate professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey to Bloomberg.
This trend seems to be spreading throughout Romania. Valeriu Nicolae, the special representative of Roma issues at the Council of Europe, said to Bloomberg that he notified the U.S. Embassy in Romania five years ago that he predicted an increasing wave of Roma headed to America because of worsening conditions.
A smuggler network of Mexican and Romanian human traffickers is guiding them across the ocean to help them cross the border around Tijuana, Mexico. Nicolae reported that the fee is around € 20.000 per person.