Some Africans before a module of attention to migrants, in the city of Tijuana in the north-western border of Mexico with the United States. Credit: Guillermo Arias/Enelcamino
TIJUANA, Mexico, 27 Sep 2016 (IPS) – Saturday afternoon. From the city of Tijuana, Sergio Tamai, an activist for the rights of migrants, summarizes the new crisis in that part of the border between Mexico and the United States.
“You are creating a bronconón,” says with an emphasis – and idiom – in the northern Mexicans. “The government is already exceeded by more than tried to hide it could no longer and the anger is going to explode”.
Tamai, founder of the Organization Angels without Borders, speaks of an unpublished phenomenon that surprises to this city of the north-western end of Mexico, the most populated area of the state of Baja California and created by migrants: the arrival of thousands of Africans and Haitians seeking asylum in the United States.
It is not known how many. The City Council recognizes to 350, which are in their hostels, but civil organizations say they can be up to 7,000.
Many are in Tijuana since May 2016, but others appeared in the first two weeks of September. The flow has not been stopped and it is very possible that its origin is older than the of these estimates.
But only now is visible for three reasons: the number of migrants is increasing; the first who arrived exhausted their money and took to the streets to do this. Before lived in hotels.
And the third reason is that some local media began to publish on the phenomenon, after which the Government of the United States denounced a possible sale of tickets by the National Institute of Migration (INM) to request asylum humanitarian.
Beyond the numbers there are some elements that make unpublished the phenomenon, even in this city that immigration has seen almost everything.
The newcomers, especially those who come from Africa, are part of a suspiciously ordered and silent flow, which even has the backing of the INM, denounce pro-migrant activists.
Many have resources that have enabled them to survive in Mexico for months and not only that: it has clear the way to try to seek asylum in the United States, which implies knowledge of international laws or, at least, of the bureaucratic procedures of the U.S. authorities.
It is not common in the flow of human beings that crosses by Mexico. Go, even in the centennial tradition migrant of this country toward the north.
That is why it is unpublished the phenomenon. And some as the priest Alejandro Solalinde, founder of the Hostel Brothers in the way, have clear the picture:
The migratory crisis that is brewing in Tijuana, she says, is part of a strategy of transnational mafias of trafficking in persons, capable of moving through planet not only Africans but to migrants of any other nationality.
Groups that, according to international protocols as Palermo (on organized crime) can only exist with the support, active or by omission, of the authorities.
But now something ruled that the door to this migration of free passage, considered of privilege by the high cost of travel ($20,000 on average), has been closed.
And the consequences are seen in the streets of Tijuana.
Historically by the southern border of Mexico have crossed citizens of half the world. In Tapachula, the largest city in the area, there are few who speak of Indians, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Chinese and of course of Central Americans, Cubans and Haitians who at some time in the past decades walked through its streets or took refuge in a hotel.
Few were references to Africans. Until a few years ago, that his presence began to be increasingly evident.
Appeared after the wave of Cubans who have fled their country before the thawing of relations between Havana and Washington, that put at risk the migrant privileges that the Islanders remained for decades.
Many of these Africans also came directly to the offices of the INM to be delivered and ask for a profession of output, which serves as a safe conduct for a month to avoid being arrested.
The document sets out its holder is in the process of voluntary leave the country and by the same, while keep their validity, cannot be deported.
A process that has existed for decades but which often did not apply to irregular migrants newcomers to Mexico. Until a few years ago the victims were generally foreigners with several years of lie in the country who are expired their temporary stay permit, known as FM3.
The office of departure obliges leave Mexico but does not prevent their re-entry, even hours after doing so. Many use it to regularize their immigration status.
The decision to apply this measure is arbitrary, certainly, because it is common in populations as Argentineans, Spanish or Chileans (almost never Americans, by the way), but there were a few cases in which Central Americans receive this benefit.
Now they have the Africans, said Solalinde. The document has allowed them to reach Tijuana where in recent months became a time bomb.
“already exceeded to the authorities. We are proposing to make a camp to concentrate and that are not in the streets but they said no, because they were going to reach thousands in little time,” explains Tamai.
“The only thing they did was to take them out of the Board and the places where they are concentrated and now walk irrigated in the streets. Up to beaches of Tijuana arrived already”, details.
This area is located on the western shore of the city, in front of the Pacific Ocean.
The presence of thousands of Africans and Haitians in Tijuana is not free, insists Solalinde.
The trip starts in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Somalia, Eritrea or Burkina Faso, continues by Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Central America and Mexico.
It is a long journey that almost nobody does alone, and that is usually handled by transnational bands of human trafficking who had guaranteed the step toward the United States thanks to the corruption of immigration service officials of that country.
But this had since changed, said Solalinde. “four to five months ago had a regular traffic operated by the INM. Arrived regular flights for example of the southern border to Toluca with oriental, or Hindus and carried directly to Tijuana,” explains.
In little time, almost at the exit of the airport migrants arriving in the shacks migratory and crossed without problem, or used other irregular channels and more expensive.
“Had narco tunnels where people also passed, was very hard but they crossed. Now they are closing. Also spent in auto with micas false and that was there in La Garita agreed, but now no longer”.
It is not known why the clandestine door to the United States was closed, but the reality is that they were stuck in the city. “Paid and someone was no longer able to respond in the last milestone as they say, but continue to arrive and are still represando”, said the priest.
Never missing the profiteers. Every day the INM gives 50 appointments to meet with a U.S. consul and raise the application for asylum.
That does not mean they will do so and in fact the majority are rejected, but remain in Tijuana for two reasons: they do not want to return to their countries, and at the same time the Mexican government cannot expel them because in many cases do not have deportation agreements with those nations.
However, a few weeks ago we learned that passes, supposedly free, in reality were sold in hundreds of dollars. Many who already have a while in the city could not buy them but the newcomers. “One day arrived as a thousand to buy them, was when the United States suspended the process”, account Tamai.
Stuck without a chance of moving, began to wander in the streets. A few hundred were to Mexicali to attempt the crossing by there, but neither did so.
“by itself La Garita, there is more girl, the saturated then and they closed the door,” recalls the activist.
Meanwhile, the social problem in the border is exacerbated each week. Municipal resources to serve the population in situation of street was already sold out, says Tamai, and the government of Baja California does not want to release money to avoid a greater concentration of migrants.
The only way out is for the federal government to unlock the resources for the care of migrants, some 300 million pesos (15.7 million), and sends them to the border to solve the problem.
Going for long, said Tamai. But it will not lay to wait. “We are going to make noise, to protest to that released the money. This is a humanitarian crisis,” says.
This article was originally published by the way, a project of journalists on foot . IPS-Inter Press Service has a special agreement with journalists on foot for the dissemination of its materials.
Reviewed by Star Gutierrez