For some Central American migrants in Tijuana, the American Dream is over before it even began.
Around 350 members of the first migrant caravan who recently reached the northern border city have decided to voluntarily return to their home countries – Honduras, in most cases – in the face of having to wait for months for the opportunity to file a request for asylum in the United States.
Some migrants who spoke to the newspaper Milenio claim they were misled about their chances of gaining entry to the U.S.
“[Migrant advocacy group] Pueblos Sin Fronteras told us not to worry, that there was going to be transportation, that Mexico was going to open the gates so that we didn’t have to enter [the U.S.] illegally, via the river . . .” Honduran migrant Ulises López said, referring to the attempted border breach Sunday.
“What was offered to the caravan of Honduran migrants was a trap . . . The people that brought us to this place, supposedly [caravan] leaders, took advantage of us, they used us in a horrific way, what they did to us has no name,” he added.
“We came with enthusiasm . . . encouraging those who didn’t want to keep going . . . but when we got here our dreams went to hell.”
Pueblos Sin Fronteras responded to the claims against it in an online statement.
“For the past few days, Pueblo Sin Fronteras has been the object of multiple critiques and declarations that discredit the work we have done for years, and especially our accompaniment of this exodus,” it said.
“These declarations are irresponsible and by criminalizing and defaming us they increase the risks faced by all human rights defenders – both those who speak out and declare their solidarity from within their own contexts, as well as those who put their bodies on the line. These declarations also put members of the Central American exodus in grave danger.”
The group also rejected any suggestion that it had encouraged or participated in the rush on the border, to which United States border agents responded with the use of tear gas.
“. . . Let it be clear that we didn’t organize or encourage [the migrants] to carry out the march [to the border] . . .” Pueblos Sin Fronteras representative David Abud said.
The Federal Police, who set up a blockade at the El Chapparal border crossing bridge that was ultimately bypassed by the migrants, warned against any repeated attempt to cross into the United States illegally.
“Those who break the peace will be processed under Mexican law . . .” Federal Police commissioner Manelich Castilla said.
The National Immigration Institute (INM) said Monday that 98 people who participated in the border protest had been arrested and would be deported.
As many as 9,000 mainly Honduran migrants fleeing violence and poverty are currently in Tijuana or other parts of Baja California, according to Mexican authorities, and 2,000 more are on their way.
The Benito Juárez sports complex, where most of the migrants are staying, is becoming increasingly overcrowded and conditions are squalid.
City officials told the news agency Reuters that there have been multiple cases of respiratory illnesses, lice and chicken pox at the makeshift shelter, where migrants are sleeping in tents or rudimentary enclosures fashioned out of whatever is at hand.
Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum said today the municipality hasn’t enough food, medications or space to attend to their needs, and repeated a call to the federal government for help. But up to now, neither the current administration nor the new one, which takes office on Saturday, have done anything to relieve the pressure on Tijuana, he said.
Source: Milenio (sp)