The international migrant crisis seen in Tijuana since last May has now extended to Mexicali, but officials claim the situation is under control despite projections that 10,000 more will arrive by next July.
Tijuana’s facilities, mostly run by non-governmental organizations, have been overwhelmed by a constant influx of migrants arriving at a rate of about 150 per day. Many have begun traveling to Mexicali after finding services overrun in Tijuana.
Shelter directors in both cities estimate that during the last four and a half months they have received about 8,000 foreign migrants, mostly from Haiti and several African countries.
One director expects that authorities will soon declare a migratory crisis in both cities. “Our service capacity has been exceeded for a while now,” he told the newspaper Reforma.
A couple of Congolese migrants interviewed by Reforma said that food and shelter shortages in Tijuana forced them to travel to Mexicali. “We arrived in Tijuana only to find that all shelters are saturated.”
Most of the African migrants travel to the Mexico-U.S. border via South American countries under sometimes perilous conditions on expensive journeys that cost up to US $5,000 per person. “When you arrive [at the border], you’re left with nothing,” said one, who was robbed of $3,000 while crossing Nicaragua.
Migrant advocacy groups have criticized state authorities for not having a clear strategy to address the issue, and have demanded aid from both Mexican and United States authorities to care for the migrants.
The Baja California Government Secretary says the United States has denied entry and asylum to 6,000 of the migrants who have arrived at the border.
However, the head of the State Migration Council said U.S. authorities are attending to the migrants’ requests for asylum.
“Every day [the United States] allows 50 international migrants and 50 from Mexico to cross the border,” said Carlos Mora Álvarez.
As for facilities on the Mexican side, he doesn’t believe more are needed.
“We could open another shelter tomorrow, but we don’t consider it really necessary . . . the situation is under control, and while the response from the U.S. has been slow, it is efficient.”
Mora acknowledged that by July 2017 close to 10,000 more migrants could arrive in both border cities.
Source: Reforma (sp)