Friday, June 14, 2024

Tijuana shelter to house people who have fled violence in Aguililla, Michoacán

As the number of people displaced by violence in Aguililla, Michoacán, continues to grow, religious networks are planning a shelter in Tijuana to house them.

Aguililla has become a center of operations for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), as it seeks to extend its territory into neighboring municipalities. But the violence has been too much for more than 500 families who have fled north, hoping to apply for asylum in the United States.

The shelter will have a food bank, cafeteria and a medical dispensary, and provide clothing. It will also provide migrant rights lawyers to assist refugees with their asylum applications. Services will be free thanks to the support of Catholic priests on both sides of the border.

Michoacán Catholic priest Gregorio López said about 90 families have arrived in Tijuana and 50 have entered the U.S.

López, also known as “Padre Goyo,” operates 30 shelters in Apatzingán which have been receiving refugees from Aguililla since the beginning of the year.

“Up until today we have had more than 500 families. We are talking about a whole town fleeing because the drug traffickers are operating with full impunity, killing innocent people,” López told Business Insider last week.

“Mexico is now overwhelmed and out of capacity to attend what is going on in Aguililla, and we really need a U.S. intervention. I’m calling the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] to come and help us,” López said.

In Aguililla, parish priest Gilberto Vergara said the church and local government have written more than 500 letters of recommendation for Aguililla residents who hope to apply for asylum in the U.S. The documents introduce the applicant and provide evidence of the violence they fled.

Vergara added that every night for the past month roads into Aguililla have been been blocked with ditches dug by criminal gangs to prevent passage. In the morning, police and residents fill in the holes. Wednesday night, Aguililla residents were awakened by the shots of another CJNG attack, which residents said left at least three people dead.

Some observers blame the situation in Aguililla on reduced security cooperation between Mexico and the U.S., which dates back to the latter’s arrest of former defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos. Now, criminal organizations directly benefit, said Cecilia Farfan-Méndez of the University of California at San Diego.

“López Obrador’s administration is thinking on Mexico’s sovereignty, and it’s getting the U.S. authorities frustrated since it’s very unclear what Mexican authorities are actually looking for,” she told Business Insider.

Texas immigration lawyer Carlos Spector said the exodus of refugees to the border “is a direct responsibility of U.S. and Mexican authorities failing to accept Mexico has a failed state — the organized crime is more of an authorized crime.”

Sources: El Universal (sp), Quadratín (sp), Business Insider (en)

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