SAN DIEGO – Asylum requests from Mexico have surged in recent years. While the U.S. government doesn't say from where within Mexico, The Associated Press has found that many are now arriving at the border from the drug-torn region of "Tierra Caliente." Word has spread there that U.S. authorities are releasing women and children while they await hearings before immigration judges, emboldening others to follow.
The AP counted 44 women and children from the Tierra Caliente released in San Diego in just one month, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 27.
The Tierra Caliente is so completely ruled by one vicious drug cartel that residents in a half-dozen towns formed self-defense groups earlier this year to try to drive out the gang. Now, they are fleeing in droves, saying their rebellion has made them targets for cartel killings.
Stevenson reported from Mexico City.