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Rise of undocumented immigrants in Acadiana

Posted at 1:05 AM, May 19, 2023

LAFAYETTE, La. — According to the latest publication from the Pew Research Center, monthly encounters with migrants at the US-Mexico border are at record highs.

There has been a significant increase in the number of migrants from Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela.

One Venezuelan immigrant says reaching the United States was a long and difficult journey for her and 32 others.

The migrant group walked for 12 days in the jungle, but she says the journey was worth it for the safety and security that their home countries can't provide.

"The whole world knows it, about the crisis in Venezuela. For me and my health conditions that I have, I don't know where I would be now," said the Venezuelan woman. "Because with the medications even though they are expensive, they have them here."

Political corruption, chronic shortages of food and medicine, and unemployment are prevalent in Venezuela, which is why our source sought asylum and peace in Lafayette.

"I see it as very tranquil. You don't see a lot of violence as you see in the news like Texas and other places, so I like it here."

Undocumented immigrants make the journey from their home countries to cities like Lafayette because it is both accessible and affordable.

"It's one of the best because economically it is accessible with the rent and you live in a good place, and the children are in good schools," said Gonzales. "There's no violence like in other schools and the areas are nice, the work is well paid and above everything, it's just access."

Immigration Paralegal Gladys Gonzales says she has been seeing an increase in Latino and Hispanic populations since she arrived in Lafayette over 19 years ago.

"Actually yes the population has grown of Latinos, Hispanics from all nationalities, Columbianos, Mexicanos, and Hondurans, the population has increased a lot, I would say by 80% percent," said Gonzales.

Our source says she misses everything about her homeland, but is happy to have made it to Louisiana and be living the American dream.

"Everyone just wants an equal quality of life," said the Venezuelan woman.