Illegal immigrants now flying Air Amnesty

Seriously. It may be time to give up.

The airlines — known among fliers as Aeromigrante, or “Migrant Air” — take passengers from central or southern Mexico to cities along the northern border such as Tijuana and Mexicali. From there, customers make their way across the U.S. border.

The flights are part of a booming services industry for the estimated 13 million Mexican and Central American migrants who reside in the USA. Passengers who used to make bus trips of several days can arrive at the border well-rested for the often dangerous crossing.

Return flights south are often nearly empty of passengers, and some routes offer only one-way service. One of the airlines, Tijuana-based Avolar, estimates that 70% of its customers have the USA as their final destination…

Migrants said another factor driving them to fly is the difficulty of crossing the border as the United States builds fences and adds Border Patrol agents. Smugglers who aid their journey have doubled their fees to $2,000 or more, making an airline ticket seem less expensive, said Guillermo Hernández of Guerrero.

Some airlines try to get even more migrant business. Avolar offers Greyhound bus connections from Tijuana to Fresno, where many migrants work on farms. Aero California takes payments through Western Union, used by many migrants to send money home.