Tijuana Shelter System at breaking point as Venezuelan migrants arrive
Tijuana migrant shelters are sounding the alarm.
“The migrant crisis is already here, and things could get out of control,” said Jose Maria Garcia Lara of the Tijuana Migrant Alliance.
Shelter operators say there are no more beds in Tijuana to accommodate additional migrants — which include northbound travelers hoping to cross into the United States and deportees adjusting to life in Mexico.
A new agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that allows the U.S. to deport Venezuelan nationals into Mexico will only add more pressure on a system that has reached its breaking point, Garcia Lara said.
On Monday, several activists and shelter operators burned piñatas made to look like U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his Mexican counterpart Marcelo Ebrard during a protest against the agreement at the border.
They criticized both federal governments for continuing former President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies — specifically Title 42, which restricts access to the asylum process.
This latest agreement expands Title 42 by including Venezuelan nationals as people in Mexico agrees to accept, said Hugo Castro, a binational activist who supported the Biden-Harris campaign in 2020 mainly because President Joe Biden promised to end Trump’s immigration policies.
“He is betraying all of us who supported him,” Castro said.
Shelter operators say it is unfair for the Mexican government to agree to receive more deportees — particularly those from other countries — without funding Tijuana shelters.
“If the United States wants to deport them, they should deport them to their country of origin,” said Sergio Tamay of the activist group Angeles Sin Fronteras.
But that is easier said than done.
Unlike with most Latin American countries, the U.S. does not have a deportation agreement with Venezuela. So, the easiest alternative is to pressure Mexico into receiving them.
Activists also accused the U.S. of lateral deportations — meaning that Venezuelans apprehended in the Texas border are flown to California and deported in Tijuana.
This is something federal immigration authorities did during both the Obama and Trump administrations to disorient migrants and discourage them from attempting to cross the border again.
Between 250 and 300 people are deported into Tijuana every day, with most of them being Mexican nationals, Garcia Lara said.
But the number of Venezuelan deportees is growing by the day, he added. “I get phone calls every day from asking who has beds for Venezuelans,” he said.
Under the new agreement, the U.S. will accept 24,000 Venezuelan refugees — but they must apply for refugee status and find a sponsor while they are outside the U.S.
Venezuelans who walk up to the border and request asylum — which was legal before the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy — will not be allowed to enter the country.
Tijuana shelter operators are protesting a new agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that sends deported Venezuelans to Tijuana.
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