Migrants camping outside the Tijuana sports complex. Migrants camping outside the Tijuana sports complex.

New migrant shelter in Tijuana can house up to 600

300 moved in after they were checked for drugs and weapons

A second new shelter has opened in Tijuana to house migrants who camped out in the street after the sports complex where they had been staying was shut down due to overcrowding and sanitary concerns.

Authorities opened a new shelter on the outskirts of the northern border city at the end of last month but fewer than half of the more than 6,000 migrants who were living at the original shelter took up the relocation offer.

A large group of Central American migrant caravan members decided to stay outside the Benito Juárez sports center, which is located in the center of the city, arguing that the new shelter was too far from the El Chaparral port of entry to the United States.

But around 300 migrants yesterday moved into a 3,800-square-meter warehouse located just 150 meters from the sports complex, and there is space for another 300.

Celeo Archaga, a Honduran pastor who arrived in Tijuana with the first migrant caravan, said that all those who wish to enter the new shelter are checked to ensure that they are not carrying drugs, weapons or any other undesirable items.

Archaga, who will be one of six coordinators at the new shelter, said that federal Morena party Senator Jaime Bonilla had secured the use of the warehouse and explained that it has been equipped with the basic services migrants require.

He added that those who are granted permission to stay will have to agree to abide by rules such as an 11:00pm curfew and noise restrictions.

“. . . The truth is we’re migrants, we’re not here to party. We’re in a fight [to seek asylum] and I believe that we have to respect others,” Archaga said.

The Central Americans currently in Tijuana, many of whom left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on October 13 as part of the first and largest migrant caravan, face a long wait to file asylum requests with United States authorities due to a “metering” system that limits the number of claims heard each day.

Frustrated with being stranded on the Mexico-United States border after a journey of more than 4,000 kilometers, a group of around 500 migrants rushed the border on November 25 and were met with tear gas and rubber bullets fired by U.S. border agents.

An increasing number of migrants are crossing or attempting to cross the border fence illegally to hand themselves in to border patrol agents in order to circumvent the lengthy wait to apply for asylum from Mexico.

On Thursday, three Honduran families broke into the backyard of a Tijuana home that adjoins the border fence to try to cross into the United States, the newspaper Milenio reported.

The migrants then climbed on to the house’s roof to scale the fence. However, only two of the migrant families – a total of 10 people – managed to get to the other side, where they were arrested, Milenio said, while one girl fell to the ground on the Mexican side while trying to cross.

The owner of the property filmed the migrants as they attempted to breach the border and called municipal police but ultimately decided not to press trespassing charges against those who were unsuccessful in their attempt to cross.

Further east, a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl died earlier this month after crossing illegally into a remote span of the New Mexico desert with her father and other migrants, United States Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

Migration continues to be at the center of the bilateral relationship between Mexico and the United States.

President López Obrador spoke by telephone to his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump Wednesday about migration and job creation in Mexico and Central America.

Earlier in the week, Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said that the federal government will invest US $30 billion over five years on a development plan with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador aimed at curing migration to the United States.

Source: El Sol de Tijuana (sp), Milenio (sp) 

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