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Officials Destroy Makeshift Homes Along Tijuana River

On Monday, law enforcement in Tijuana evicted and destroyed the makeshift homes of many of the estimated 1,000 people who lived along the Tijuana River.

Aired 8/6/13 on KPBS News.

Many of the people living in shacks or dug-out holes along the river were people deported from the U.S.

Jesus, a deportee, peeks out of the hole he dug into a bank of the Tijuana river. These types of gopher hole-like homes pock the river's banks, built by deportees with no place else to go.

Most of the people living in the concrete river canal that runs along the U.S.-Mexico border fence were desperate migrants who had been deported from the U.S. They lived in shacks or in homes that resembled fox holes dug into sand on the river's banks.

This week, a coalition of municipal and state agencies entered the river, evicted its inhabitants, then used bulldozers to clear all their homes away. A statement from the municipal police said the evictions were meant to protect migrants from harm by the machinery used in the cleanup. The statement also said all the migrants refused offers of beds at nearby shelters. Ninety people were also arrested on charges unspecified in the statement.

Human rights workers are criticizing the operation. Victor Clark Alfaro is one of them.

"It's not enough to remove them from the canal," he said. "The government has to offer a social program to help them reintegrate into society. Otherwise, they'll just return."

Indeed, he said he had spoken with a police official on Tuesday afternoon who confirmed that migrants were already returning to the river canal to take up residence.

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