The caravan of immigrants seeking U.S. asylum have reached the U.S. border at Tijuana and residents there aren’t happy about it.
Nearly 3,000 migrants, most of them from Honduras, are being housed in temporary shelters in the Mexican border town, and residents there are up in arms.
In blunt contrast to the warm reception thousands of migrants received as they made the arduous journey through Central America to Mexico – getting food donations and well wishes from locals – the nearly 3,000 people who reached the Mexican border with California in recent days have been met with marked hostility.
The majority of migrants, who have been on foot for more than a month, are sleeping on a dirt baseball field at an outdoor sports complex in Tijuana by the newly-fortified barbed wire fence that separates Mexico from the United States. A truck parked on the street is providing showers for women, while the men are told to use newly established outdoor showers near the field.
Reports of insults being shouted, rocks being hurled and even physical fist-fighting has escalated over the weekend.
The reception has left many in limbo – afraid to return to their homeland, which for the vast majority is Honduras, yet unwelcome in Mexico and uncertain if their U.S. asylum requests will be granted. The U.S is said to be processing around 100 claims per day.
Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has referred to the arrivals as “bums” and questioned whether a referendum in the city of 1.6 million is needed to determine whether or not they should be allowed to stay.
“Human rights should be reserved for righteous humans,” Gastelum lamented last week.
Gastelum raised some hackles with that comment, as well as with other statements suggesting that the migrants were “potheads” and had diseases. “How dare he call the migrants criminals, bringing diseases,” Morones said. Referencing the confrontation that occured Wednesday night between locals and migrants, Morones added: “He is promoting violence…. Hate words lead to hate actions and we’re not going to tolerate it.”
U.S. officials are processing about 100 asylum applications a day, but they are about to be buried:
Yet officials anticipate that the migrant caravan will soon swell in excess of 10,000 – and will need to be housed for more than six months – which the Mexican government claims it lacks the resources to do.
Alden Rivera, the Honduran ambassador in Mexico, told reporters during a visit to the sports complex on Saturday that he is working with local officials to secure additional funds.
“These are our people, we want to do what we can for them,” he said. “In Honduras, we respect human rights.”
Yet his visit also drew visceral responses from many who blame the U.S.-backed Honduran government for their own dire financial and security situation – which prompted them to make the journey in the first place.
So Honduras can send money and supplies to Mexico to take care of their people but they can’t help them in Honduras? What’s wrong with that picture?
In a couple of weeks, most of the caravan will have been processed and the people dispersed. Where they will be allowed to stay is another question. Mexico seems unwilling to take the responsibility for them and Honduras almost certainly won’t take them back.
They will, as they planned all along, end up being cared for by the U.S. government until their asylum status is determined. That may be a year or more. In the meantime, how many will simply disappear into the illegal communities along the border?
You can bet that the success of this caravan in reaching the U.S. will bring many others and this whole process will be repeated over and over.