Monday - Dec 17, 2018

Message of urgency about the avalanche of migrants that is approaching Tijuana


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by Bernardo Méndez

@Americasinmuros, its president Kino Miquirray and its director Bernardo Méndez Lugo inform as a matter of urgency and national emergency:

Possible scenario with the arrival of caravans exodus migrants to the border of Mexico-US: the case of Tijuana, urgent actions of the three levels of government.

It is very possible that of the three Exodus Migrant Caravans coming from Central America, most of the migrants are concentrated in the Tijuana region.

By the middle of December or before, between 9,000 and 10,000 Central Americans will be present in Tijuana and a fourth caravan of 10 thousand people from El Salvador has been announced that would leave in the middle of December (in a month) towards the border of Mexico-US border.

Many less will be arriving in Mexicali, Nogales and other border points with the United States. On this point, Dr. Alejandra Castañeda indicates that “Tijuana needs to be considered for attention in a scenario where the crossing to the United States is at the drop rate. Transferees who are being financed should go to different points of the border. I also reiterate that it is very important to make people aware of the situation in the United States where they will be detained for months, separated from their families.

On this point, Dr. Leticia Calderón Chelius of the Dr. José María Luis Mora Research Institute writes: “Wait at least two months in Tijuana in winter to see if they pass the filter that takes them to a prison in the United States while they wait to be in front of a judge to defend their case … what a difficult dilemma when there are no options.” This option will be viable for less than 10 percent of the members of the Exodus Migrant Caravan. The vast majority must remain in Mexican territory.

Most of them will not be able to cross into the US due to extreme restrictions imposed by the Trump government, including the 90-day executive order (which is unconstitutional) that denies the right to seek asylum from members of the Caravan, the militarization of the entire border and the presence of armed anti-immigrant groups known as “Minutemen.

The ability to process asylum applications for the US is very limited and the more applicants arrive, the greater the rigidity and closure to process and accept asylum from Central America.

The challenge to meet the needs of about 10,000 migrant people in Tijuana is of great magnitude and the municipal and state governments can not solve it. Without the support of the federal government, every day that goes by will aggravate the situation of migrants, especially unaccompanied children, minors in general, pregnant mothers and older adults.

These challenges are of a wide range: capacity of the shelters thinking that since there is no alternative to cross the border they will have to stay for an indefinite time in Tijuana and this implies: maintaining the capacity of the shelters, feeding, medical attention and preventive health, endowment of winter clothing, capacity for minors and adolescents to be integrated into the school system, transportation and for older adults adequate conditions.

While there are a number of around 3,500 people who have requested Refuge in Mexico, the budget for COMAR tasks must be strengthened in order to process these thousands of requests, an emergency budget must already be generated for COMAR.
The members of the Caravan that arrive in Tijuana are not those that have requested refuge and in the vast majority they will seek to apply for asylum in the US and it can be said that the vast majority will be denied. No more than 7 percent will be able to obtain asylum in the US.

The federal government of Mexico must generate humanitarian visas with work permits. And in this area, the Government of Mexico must integrate border companies in the supply of jobs within the framework of the “Youth Building the Future” Program that begins on December 1, 2018 that includes returning and transmigrant Mexican migrants.

In addition, the Cooperation Plan with Central America that coordinates the future Chancellor Mtro Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon with greater involvement of the Business Advisory Council, several of them with strong investments in Central America as @Ricardo Salinas Pliego of Grupo Salinas, should be activated as soon as possible. This Plan must be advanced in its proposals to be executed in at least 80% according to Ebrard’s statements. The main goal of the Plan is to generate decent jobs, especially in the three countries with the greatest expulsion, so that greater economic development significantly reduces migration.

It is urgent that the federal government generate a budget to support the network of Tijuana hostels, we should not wait for the sexennial change since the next two weeks are crucial. Failure to address the magnitude of this problem will overtake the Tijuana municipal government and unprecedented crises and unimaginable social conflicts could erupt. There are already worrying signs of discontent and radicalized anti-immigrant outbreaks of Tijuana population centers, as has been observed in the Colonia Playas de Tijuana.

It is time for the outgoing and incoming federal government to coordinate with the municipal government of Tijuana and the State Government of Baja California to address the problem and prevent the conflict situation from growing. There is no time to lose. There are not many options and action must be taken immediately. It is also a task for entrepreneurs and civil society. It is not healthy to expect the situation to get worse to act and generate responses that should be short, medium and long term.

The latest news is that a SF judge has imposed a veto on Trump’s executive legislation that limits the right to asylum at the border to members of the Caravan for 90 days.

In my opinion this order of the Judge will not limit the temporary effectiveness of Trump’s executive order and it seems to me that very few will be able to process their requests and will have to wait several months in Tijuana or other border cities.

Now the vast majority have opted for Tijuana and the City authorities say they can only hold the migrants of the Caravan for six days. I sense that very difficult days are approaching for migrants on the Tijuana border.

(Bernardo Méndez is director of América Sin Muros and ex Consul of Mexico).