Residents of Tijuana, Mexico aren't taking too kindly to thousands of members of a migrant caravan - hurling insults, rocks and even punches at the Central Americans which have arrived by the thousands in an effort to ultimately seek asylum in the United States, reports AP.
Ivis Muñoz, 26, has considered returning to Honduras. The coffee farmer called his father in Atima, Honduras, on Saturday to consult on his next move a few days after being attacked on a beach by locals in Tijuana. His father told him to stick it out.
Munoz was asleep on a beach in Tijuana with about two dozen other migrants when rocks came raining down on them around 2 a.m. Wednesday. He heard a man shout in the darkness: “We don’t want you here! Go back to your country!” Munoz and the others got up and ran for cover, heading toward the residential streets nearby. As the sun rose, they hitched a ride on a passing truck to Tijuana’s downtown. Now he is staying at the sports complex. -AP
Another caravan member, 57-year-old Carlos Padilla of Honduras, said a Tijuana resident shouted "migrants are pigs" as he passed by.
Tijuana mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has referred to the arrival of so many migrants at once an "avalanche" that the city will struggle to take care of. He calculates that they will remain in the city for at least six months as they go through the process of filing asylum claims. At a rate of around 100 applications per day, US border inspectors won't be able to process all 3,000 names currently registered in a notebook that the migrants assembled en route.
The Mayor of Tijuana, Mexico, just stated that “the City is ill-prepared to handle this many migrants, the backlog could last 6 months.” Likewise, the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it. They are causing crime and big problems in Mexico. Go home!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2018
For now, the vast majority of the caravan is camped out on a dirt baseball field at an outdoor sports arena and underneath bleachers. The city opened the complex after their other shelters reached capacity, while church groups have chipped in to provide portable showers, bathrooms and sinks. Local businesses, meanwhile, have complained of migrants panhandling and stealing.
Francisco Lopez, 50, owns a furniture store nearby. He said a group of migrants took food from a small grocery a few doors down, and he worries that crime in the area will rise the longer the migrants stay at the shelter.
Outside the complex, lines of migrants snaked along the street to receive donations of clothes and coolers full of bottled water being dropped off by charity groups and others looking to help the migrants.
Tijuana officials said they converted the municipal gymnasium and recreational complex into a shelter to keep migrants out of public spaces. The city’s privately run shelters have a maximum capacity of 700. The municipal complex can hold up to 3,000; as of Friday night there were 2,397 migrants there. -AP
Up to 10,000 migrants could eventually end up in Tijuana, according to the federal government.
Alden Rivera, the Honduran ambassador in Mexico, visited the outdoor sports complex Saturday. Rivera expects the migrants will need to be sheltered for eight months or more, and said he is working with Mexico to get more funds to feed and care for them. He expects the migrant numbers in Tijuana to reach 3,400 over the weekend, with another 1,200 migrants having made it to Mexicali, another border city a few hours to the east of Tijuana. An additional 1,500 migrants plan to reach the U.S. border region next week. -AP
1,800 Hondurans have returned to their country since the caravan began its journey on October 13, according to Rivera. He hopes more will follow suit.
Mexico citizens in Tijuana protesting the new caravan arrivals at their border https://t.co/wVwgWu3qEj— Kambree Kawahine Koa (@KamVTV) November 18, 2018
"We want them to return to Honduras," said Rivera, noting that each migrant must decide whether to apply for asylum in Mexico, wait in line for US asylum, or go home. According to the Mexican Interior Ministry on Friday, 2,697 Central American migrants had requested Mexican asylum under a program launched on October 26 designed to expedite credentials for those who intend to live, work and study in southern Mexico.
Tijuana resident Felipe Garza, 55, acknowledge that locals aren't exactly excited to help the migrants despite he and other members of his church handing them coffee and rolls at the makeshift municipal shelter. "It’s uncomfortable to receive such a big multitude of people, but it’s a reality that we have to deal with," he said.
Garza surmised that if the Central Americans behave, Tijuana will embrace them just as it did thousands of Haitians in 2016. Those Haitians have since opened restaurants, hair salons and enrolled in local universities.
Police officer Victor Coronel agrees but wonders how much more the city can take. “The only thing we can do is hope that President (Donald) Trump opens his heart a little,” said Coronel. -AP
Trump "opening his heart" might be wishful thinking, however, as he tweeted just two days ago: "Isn’t it ironic that large Caravans of people are marching to our border wanting U.S.A. asylum because they are fearful of being in their country - yet they are proudly waving their country’s flag. Can this be possible? Yes, because it is all a BIG CON, and the American taxpayer is paying for it!"
....their country’s flag. Can this be possible? Yes, because it is all a BIG CON, and the American taxpayer is paying for it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2018