Migrant camp on Mexico’s northern border reflects growing crisis

Tijuana, Mexico, Apr 12 (EFE).- More than 150 migrants, including children, have been camping out for more than a week near the wall along the northern Mexico border, waiting and hoping to enter the United States, a fact reflecting the growing crisis over the past three months after new US immigration restrictions were put in place.

The majority of the people in the camp are from countries like Ecuador, Colombia and Haiti, and they are living in improvised tents amid the cold weather with very little food.

Maria Belen, from Ecuador, told EFE that she arrived at the camp on Tuesday morning with her 15-year-old daughter hoping for the chance to enter the US after a “tough journey” of more than two months, including passing through the dangerous Darien jungle on the border between Colombia and Panama.

“It’s been a very tough experience, my feet were covered with blisters. They treated all the injuries on my feet in Honduras, but God guided us here and we’re doing OK. Here, we’re waiting, asking for humanitarian asylum,” she said.

For Belen and her daughter, the trip has been difficult, with “passing through the Darien and making the trek along this whole road is very hard.”

“So, we’re asking to please help us, for them not to discriminate against us because we’re migrants who are traveling along this complicated road,” she said.

The desperation of the migrants has grown since the US in January announced new measures to take in 30,000 migrants from Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba but with immediate deportation facing anyone else who crosses the US border in an irregular manner.

Luis Pastrana, also from Ecuador, told EFE that he’d been waiting on the border for five days and had begun feeling uncertain about the situation.

“We came on foot from Ecuador. I’m traveling alone, but families, women and single men came who have been here for days and days. We’re waiting for the Border Patrol to come,” he said.

He said that some US officials had approached them but they only “said to wait our turn, that first the families” are being handled.

“Very few are entering (the US). There’s nothing else for us to do but wait and wait…” he said.

Pastrana said that these days he’s surviving on very little food and water, using home delivery apps.

“(But) we’ve got only a little money and it costs us a lot, up to $100 for a chicken,” he said.

Jose Maria Garcia Lara, the director of Movimiento Juventud 2000 and the coordinator of the Tijuana Migrant Alliance, told EFE that this is a situation that’s happening more and more frequently along the border in Tijuana because the US “CBP One” app is not working correctly.

CBP One is a program whereby migrants can request legal residence in the US via an exception to Title 42, a rule limiting the entry of foreigners into the US on the pretext of keeping out people infected with Covid-19 and put in place by former Republican President Donald Trump.

“This situation has been telling us about the behavior of these communities in entering the US illegally, and it’s begun to be seen more and more often in Tijuana, at the border wall, whether to cross and stay or to surrender,” he said.

“This is going to be seen more frequently. Our recommendation is to wait, to stay in the shelters, but we also know that the app program is very slow and unfortunately the communities who are in the shelters are the ones who benefit least,” he said.

The activist said that the best thing to do is simply to wait and try to get by without taking risks.

He warned that “if the (app) program is not updated (to) benefit the people who are in the shelters, it’s going to create a situation where the migrants approach the border wall or the crossing points trying to cross to turn themselves in directly” to US authorities.

EFE –/bp

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