Exhausted Central American Asylum-seekers Gather in Tijuana
Nearly 2,000 caravan migrants reached the US border in at Tijuana, Mexico Thursday, with more coming in a trickle of buses.
The City of Tijuana, with its privately run shelters operating well above their capacity of 700, opened the gymnasium and gated sport complex for up to 1,000 migrants, with a potential to expand to 3,000.
With US border inspectors processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at the main border crossing with San Diego, prospects grew that migrants would be now be waiting in Tijuana for months.
Francisco Rueda, the Top deputy to Baja California state Governor Francisco Vega de la Madrid, said about 1,750 migrants from the caravan reached Tijuana so far.
“This is not a crisis,” he told reporters, though he agreed that “this is an extraordinary situation.”
Mr. Rueda said the state has 7,000 jobs available for its “Central American migrant brothers” who obtain legal residence status in Mexico.
“Today in Baja California there is an employment opportunity for those who request it, but it order for this to happen, it has to regulate migrant status,” he said.
The city’s thriving factories are always looking for workers, and several thousand Haitian migrants who were turned away at the US border have found jobs and settled in Tijuana the last 2 years.
Police made their presence known in a city that is suffering an all-time-high homicide rate.
To claim asylum in San Diego, migrants enter their names in a notebook, and managed by the migrants in a plaza outside the entry to the main border crossing.
Thursday, migrants who registered 6 weeks ago were getting their names called. The waiting list has grown to more than 3,000 names and stands to become much longer with the new arrivals.
Dozens of Gay and Transgender migrants in the caravan lined up Thursday to submit asylum claims.
Mr. Rueda, the Governor’s deputy, said that if all migrants from the caravan currently in Tijuana were to register to seek asylum in the US, they would likely have to wait at least 4 months at current processing rates. For that reason, the state has asked Mexican federal authorities to encourage people in other caravans to go to other border cities.
There are real questions about how the city of more than 1.6-M will manage to handle the migrant caravans working their way through Mexico.
“No city in the world is prepared to receive this number of migrants,” said Mario Osuna, Tijuana’s social development director. He said the city hopes Mexico’s federal government “will start legalizing these people immediately” so they can get jobs and earn a living.
The caravan has fragmented in recent days in a final push to the border, with some migrants moving rapidly in buses and others falling behind.