Tensions increase as migrants gather in Tijuana


Hundreds of migrants and their families line up to receive breakfast during their stay at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico. Fair use: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Over the past few months, migrant caravans have been traveling through Mexico in an attempt to enter the United States. Tensions run high on both sides of the border, as migrants persist in their journey to cross the U.S. – Mexican border. In fact, on Dec. 3, about two dozen Central Americans breached the border, according to CBS News. Witnesses reported that they used objects such as blankets and ropes to scale the 10-foot metal fence, but most were caught by border patrol.

CBS News reports that thousands of migrants have been detained at the structure separating California from Tijuana, Mexico.

“Migrants in Tijuana are part of the numerous migrant caravans that traveled through Mexico in an effort to enter the U.S. — some planning to do so illegally, others legally by applying for asylum,” said CBS News.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, applying for asylum status means that one is seeking U.S. protection due to past persecution or the fear of persecution because of things such as religion, race, or political beliefs. While many of the migrants gathered in Tijuana are planning on entering the U.S. legally, they are often mistaken as attempting to cross the border illegally.

However, plans to cross the border have been interrupted by the Trump Administration’s decision to send troops to the border. In addition to preventing illegal entry, these troops have also been instructed to impose the new policy requiring migrants applying for asylum to stay in Mexico while awaiting application and acceptance.

The increased number of border patrol agents has put stress on numerous migrants waiting to enter the U.S., as they are forced to reside in unhealthy conditions. Since the crisis began, migrants in Tijuana have been exposed to and are suffering from a variety of health problems such as chickenpox, lice, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and skin infections.

Citizens of Tijuana are also suffering the consequence of the influx of people, according to CBS News. Juan Manuel Gastélum, Mayor of Tijuana told Fox News that Tijuana cannot continue to support migrants waiting for application. Tijuana is taking a major toll in terms of money and resources.

The crisis escalated on Nov. 25, when hundreds of people overpowered Mexican border police to run to the border between Mexico and San Diego.

“In response, the United States customs and border protection agency shut down the border crossing in both directions and fired tear gas to push back migrants from the border fence,” according to the New York Times.

This event has further emphasized the frustration of the people waiting to request asylum. Current efforts to defuse the situation include talks about meetings to discuss the problem, but the main solution seems to be purely an increase in law enforcement. Citizens of the U.S. and Mexico alike are now calling for action, proposing long-term changes to the asylum application process and insisting on better methods to handle immigration, both legal and illegal.