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While some get in, others wait: Humanitarian crisis on the border

por Karina Guzmán (karina.guzman@lamegamedia.com)

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SAN DIEGO, California — In an area between two border walls, with plastic bags on the ground serving as sheets to protect themselves from the dirt, some have spent up to three days sleeping outdoors with blankets to help keep them warm. Those same aluminum thermal blankets are also used during the day to prevent sunburn. All of them are migrants from different parts of the world.

“I come here to give my family something better, my son needs special care,” says a migrant from Belize.

They come from Colombia, Turkey, Haiti, Iran, Belize, and other countries. They are amassed at the foot of the fence that divides Mexico and the United States.

In the 3,152 kilometers that the border strip measures, around 65,000 migrants have camped in recent weeks.

In Tijuana, they arrive using different routes: plane, bus and even on foot. Finally, they get to a point where they cross through a sewer system; others risk their lives by climbing the 30-foot high wall… all to be as close as possible to seeking political asylum.

Once close to the border wall, they encounter agents of the U.S. Border Patrol (CBP) guarding the large metal gates.

Between the rusty steel bars, hands can be seen pleading for someone to charge the battery of their cell phone, the most valuable item for some as it keeps them in touch with their families. Adriana Jasso, from the Committee of American Friends, comes every day to charge phones and give more help. “I bring them medicine because many suffer from headaches and migraines from the sun,” Jasso said.

Thousands of migrants arrive with the illusion that once title 42 is lifted, they will be able to enter North American soil. The controversial measure was created under the Donald Trump administration in March 2020, supposedly to prevent the spread of the pandemic, and opening the door for any immigrant to be deported.

“I am migrating because of the situation in our country, fleeing from violence; we hope that they give us asylum to stay,” said a migrant from Colombia.

Many are escaping the violence in their countries; others flee poverty. All have the same goal: to start a new life.

This wave of migrants has generated a humanitarian crisis in Tijuana, and San Diego has already received thousands. After being processed by immigration, hundreds upon hundreds are transported to a temporary shelter. They get off the buses with only a backpack or a plastic bag where they carry their belongings.

Those who can afford it stay in a neighboring hotel for a night or two and stay inside their rooms for fear of facing any reprisals.

“Whole families come here; they don’t speak English. They’re from Turkey, Vietnam, and Haiti,” says Sofi Hill, who is staying at the neighboring Motel 6. 

Colombian migrants explained to La Mega Nota how they spent 10 days in the detention center, in a room with up to 60 people sleeping on the floor, with only water and snacks provided by the agents. Many of them now face an uncertain future.

“I spoke with another group… they were three brothers. I asked them if they had money and they told me that it was only for two days, then they would have to go to the street to see where they could stay,” Hill added.

While some are already on American soil, others are still camping under the wall. Those who try to enter without making an appointment with immigration agents may be deported. Reportedly, these appointments can only be scheduled through the CBPone mobile application.


PHOTO: Migrants formed in groups to be identified on the day they arrive and provide them with food. (La Mega Nota/Karina Guzmán)


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