Officials said they were afraid a wave of migrants from Central America might storm the crossing and overwhelm agents. But the migrants are not being welcomed on Mexico’s side of the border either. CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports.
Tempers flare in Tijuana, Mexico, where a caravan of Central American migrants arrived to a cold welcome. Across the border in the U.S., where President Donald Trump has compared them to invaders, it is likely to be colder still. U.S. authorities here can only process around 100 asylum claims per day.
That means a long wait for more than three thousand migrants already here. As many as 10,000 could pour into this city in the coming weeks. Joel Collado is one of the caravan organizers. He said there are people here who can’t afford long delays.
“We are asking President Trump and the authorities to increase the number of people being admitted, which will help us overcome the uncertainty,” said Collado. “We must remember there are children, pregnant women and old people here, and so this will make the entry process better.”
The migrants will have their asylum claims reviewed, but whether those requests granted is another matter. The rate of approval is low. Jan Joseph Bejar is a San Diego immigration attorney and has been closely watching the caravan’s progress.
“Each asylum application is supposed to be done, assuming the U.S. government does it properly and lawfully, on a case-by-case basis,” said Bejar. “You don’t admit people en masse. When they come up in vast numbers it’s impossible to determine who is going to get in and who is not. The United States grants very few asylum applications when you compare it with the number who actually apply.”
While the caravan members may be frustrated, the perceived priority being given to them by the U.S. authorities has not gone down well in Tijuana, where a large proportion of the local population is made up of migrants.
“We’ve been here for a month-and-a-half waiting for something to happen,” said migrant Guadalupe Mondragon. “Yet this caravan arrives and we get pushed to the side. I think it’s bad.”
As the caravan waits, it is left to officials in Tijuana to care for them. The city’s mayor compares the caravan to an “avalanche” that is already overwhelming his city’s social services. He estimates the migrants could be stranded here six months, at least, as U.S. authorities process their asylum applications. While this city marks the end of an arduous journey across Mexico for the migrants, they are nowhere near the end of their ordeal.