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Mexico Opens Second Shelter for Migrants as Humanitarian Crisis Develops

National Migration Institute Warehouses Caravanners on Tijuana’s East Side

By Laura Hauther, November 30, 2018 8:17 am

A mountain of garbage has piled up where caravan members have been placed. (Laura Hauther)

TIJUANA, MEXICO—With cool weather and rain on the horizon, Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) is opening a second shelter on Tijuana’s east side.

Workers spent Wednesday cleaning and setting up the new facility to relieve some of the overcrowded conditions at the Benito Juarez sports complex. Once dining areas and proper sanitation facilities are set up the migrants can start moving in.  It’s expected to open by the end of the week.

Authorities have struggled to address the human needs of people who have walked for weeks and have no resources. (Laura Hauther)

Humanitarian groups expressed concern that the crowded and unsanitary conditions at the Benito Juarez sports complex shelter, currently at more than three times capacity, puts the more than five thousand men, woman and children at risk.

The new event center shelter is 161,000 square feet. It will hold an additional 3,000 migrants and its five covered areas will provide better shelter from the elements than the sports complex according to Rodolfo Olimpo, representative from Baja California state’s Special Committee on Migration Issues.

That same day workers with wheelbarrows were adding to the growing mountain of large black garbage bags dumped next to the immigrant shelter as they struggled to keep up with the needs of the overcrowded sports complex shelter.

Police, medical service tents, legal aid groups, and others lined the street while hundreds of immigrants milled about, listening to a preacher or looking at pictures of separated friends and relatives posted on a nearby wall.

Some still preferred to keep a distance from the official shelter. A group of colorful tents set up a few blocks away by a highway overpass housed Salvadorian migrants, according to Luis Enrique, a local taxi driver.

If all goes according to plan, they’ll soon have a better option.

Laura Hauther

Laura Hauther is a veteran reporter for KPFK and has written for several LA weekly newspapers.
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