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Migrants Continue Arriving in Tijuana Despite Mayor’s Public Opposition

Thousands of migrants are continuing to leave Central America heading towards various cities along US-Mexican border.

A young migrant child sits on the curb outside of the tent he and his dad are living in outside of the Benito Juarez Sports Complex in the Zona Norte neighborhood of Tijuana on Saturday, December 1, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo by: Ryanne Mena

Thousands of migrants are continuing to leave Central America to head towards various cities along US-Mexican border, including the city of Tijuana. But the mayor of this particular border city is publicly opposed to migrants coming to the city, potentially affecting the asylum seekers continuing to arrive.

After over 5,000 Central American migrants arrived in Tijuana and were sheltered at a city ran sports complex along the border last year in November, mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum declared a humanitarian crisis in the city. That included Gastelum vowing to stop city funds going towards supporting the migrants, according to AP News. The thousands staying in what was once Tijuana’s largest migrant shelter were evicted on December 2, 2018 following a partial flooding in the area. Since then, the city has not allocated any funds to shelter the thousands of displaced asylum seekers.

Tents set up across the street from the Benito Juarez Sports Complex following the eviction of the thousands being sheltered at the facility, on Sunday, December 9, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo by: Ryanne Mena

That leaves many, such as an asylum seeker named Miguel, at the mercy of sleeping on the streets of Tijuana, ranking as the fifth most dangerous city in the world, according to a Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice report.

Miguel Reyes, who chose to not use his real name for fear of being persecuted, left Honduras on January 15 to begin his journey towards the US-Mexican border with a group of people in a caravan. The twenty-year-old arrived in Tijuana after 32 days of traveling primarily by foot despite having a broken rib after being beaten up by gang members. The fear of being beaten up isn’t why Miguel left Honduras, the fear of being killed by the Mara, a gang otherwise known as MS-13, is why he fled his home country. Miguel’s last encounter with them before fleeing was when they went to his work and threatened him. “They took all the payment from my [paycheck], then they forced to tie me to the Mara… They threatened me with death and my family too, so I cannot return to my country,” said Reyes.

Although there are several make-shift shelters for migrants in the city of Tijuana, most of them are filled and each only has the capacity for approximately 30–150 people. Thousands of migrants are reported to be arriving to the border city in the next week, leaving an uncertainty as to where they will be sheltered while many of them await to seek asylum in the US.