Tijuana sees migrant arrivals rise as Trump’s ‘stay in Mexico’ policy resumes

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Immigration
Haitian migrants line up to be brought to one shelter after another in the city filled to capacity, in Mexicali, Mexico December 13, 2021. REUTERS/Victor Medina

A new wave of migrants is arriving at the Mexican border after US judges ordered the resumption of a policy that forces migrants to wait in Mexico for their asylum claims to be resolved.

Denouncing the lack of space in the shelters, activists told Reuters the “Stay in Mexico” program, officially known as the Migrant protection protocols (MPP) launched by former US President Donald Trump, is partly responsible for hundreds of new arrivals.

“This is just the beginning,” said Tomas Diosdado, director of the Alfa y Omega migrant shelter in Mexicali, a town just across the border from Calexico, California.

Diosdado said some 750 Haitian migrants have arrived in Mexicali in the past two weeks, attracted by the resumption of the MPP. Many mistakenly believe they will now be allowed to enter the United States, he added.

On Monday, a US court rejected the latest attempt by President Joe Biden’s administration to end his predecessor’s controversial policy.

Biden, nearly a year into his presidential term, campaigned on a pledge to reverse many of Trump’s hardline immigration policies.

Hundreds of mostly Haitian migrants have also arrived in the Mexican border town of Tijuana, just south of San Diego, as well as Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, activists say.

Last week, US authorities returned the first migrants under the take-back program to Ciudad Juarez, and on Tuesday the number of shipments reached 113, according to data from the United Nations International Organization for Migration.

If the Mexican government does not provide more shelter for returning migrants, the influx will make them more vulnerable to violence and other hardships like hunger and disease, said Jose Garcia, manager of migrant shelter Juventud 2000. in Tijuana.

He said he would work to set up a migrant camp at the border for Haitians, who he said are currently forced to wander the city and sleep on the streets.

Under the original 2019 program, some 70,000 asylum-seeking migrants were forced to wait weeks and sometimes years in Mexico for a court date in the United States instead of being allowed to wait for their audiences in the United States.

Neither the US nor Mexican governments have specified how long the latest iteration of the program will last.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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