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Inside the Biden migrant camp in Tijuana

100 pesos daily for using bathrooms

Since February 19 around five hundred migrants have set up camp in the Mexican side of the Port of Entry. - Image by Luis Gutierrez
Since February 19 around five hundred migrants have set up camp in the Mexican side of the Port of Entry.

Since February 19 when 25 cases of asylum seekers were accepted for review, around five hundred migrants have established an improvised camp in the Mexican side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The Migrant Protection Protocols program announced by Biden’s administration has given hope to those stuck in Tijuana due to the Trump's Remain in Mexico program.

Most migrants in the camp have no appointment.

According to one of the Tijuana's migrant officials, Jose Luis Perez, 25 asylum seekers crossed the border that day, and groups of that same number will be crossing every day. Most migrants in the camp (called El Chaparral) have no appointment, they heard about the new migrant program and decided to camp here hoping for legal help.

Isabelo Soto, 62, says his journey from Honduras was dreadful. “We suffered a hurricane that destroyed everything we had. That’s why I came here, I just have two months and it has been pretty difficult.”

Isabelo Soto, 62, from Honduras: “We suffered a hurricane that destroyed everything we had."

That reason pushed Jenny Cruz and her family of two children and her husband to come. She has an appointment in two months and she pointed out that they had no other option than to stay there because they can’t afford a place to live while waiting.

Dago, another Honduran: “I had a business back in Honduras, but the gangs there were asking me for the war tax."

“On top of that we have to pay almost 100 pesos ($5) daily just for using bathrooms here and to take a shower; a nearby hotel charges 50 pesos ($2.50) per person, even for kids” she explained. “We’re in a desperate situation in Tijuana; the other day the police detained me with my children and threatened me with deportation, took me right away in the patrol car, and demanded all the money we had to let us go. We gave them 800 pesos ($40), all that we had for food,” she added.

"In Tijuana the other day the police demanded all the money we had. We gave them 800 pesos, all that we had for food.”

Dago, another Honduran: “I had a business back in Honduras, but the gangs there were asking me for the war tax, a fee we had it to pay monthly; if you refuse to pay or report that to the government you can end up dead.” Dago said his objective is to find a job in the U.S. to send money to his three kids and wife.

Maria Benavidez from the Mexican state of Michoacan lived on the exact boundary in dispute between Los Viagras and Jalisco’s New Generation Cartel, the most powerful gangs in Mexico.

"Most men are blackmailed to join the cartels."

“The day before we decided to leave, a grenade exploded in front of our house; we were in the crossfire. We were just able to hide under our beds. I had videos from that shooting, but cartels have checkpoints where they take pictures of your ID and share it with a group to see if they can let you pass. Most men are blackmailed to join the cartels, so is more difficult for them to leave”.

For now, these asylum seekers are camping on the asphalt in the hope of getting into the U.S., but they must wait at least four months to have an appointment and initiate their process. According to the Municipal Department of Migrant Attention 25,000 asylum seekers will be re-accepted in Matamoros, Ciudad Juarez, and Tijuana after this Biden program.

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Since February 19 around five hundred migrants have set up camp in the Mexican side of the Port of Entry. - Image by Luis Gutierrez
Since February 19 around five hundred migrants have set up camp in the Mexican side of the Port of Entry.

Since February 19 when 25 cases of asylum seekers were accepted for review, around five hundred migrants have established an improvised camp in the Mexican side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The Migrant Protection Protocols program announced by Biden’s administration has given hope to those stuck in Tijuana due to the Trump's Remain in Mexico program.

Most migrants in the camp have no appointment.

According to one of the Tijuana's migrant officials, Jose Luis Perez, 25 asylum seekers crossed the border that day, and groups of that same number will be crossing every day. Most migrants in the camp (called El Chaparral) have no appointment, they heard about the new migrant program and decided to camp here hoping for legal help.

Isabelo Soto, 62, says his journey from Honduras was dreadful. “We suffered a hurricane that destroyed everything we had. That’s why I came here, I just have two months and it has been pretty difficult.”

Isabelo Soto, 62, from Honduras: “We suffered a hurricane that destroyed everything we had."

That reason pushed Jenny Cruz and her family of two children and her husband to come. She has an appointment in two months and she pointed out that they had no other option than to stay there because they can’t afford a place to live while waiting.

Dago, another Honduran: “I had a business back in Honduras, but the gangs there were asking me for the war tax."

“On top of that we have to pay almost 100 pesos ($5) daily just for using bathrooms here and to take a shower; a nearby hotel charges 50 pesos ($2.50) per person, even for kids” she explained. “We’re in a desperate situation in Tijuana; the other day the police detained me with my children and threatened me with deportation, took me right away in the patrol car, and demanded all the money we had to let us go. We gave them 800 pesos ($40), all that we had for food,” she added.

"In Tijuana the other day the police demanded all the money we had. We gave them 800 pesos, all that we had for food.”

Dago, another Honduran: “I had a business back in Honduras, but the gangs there were asking me for the war tax, a fee we had it to pay monthly; if you refuse to pay or report that to the government you can end up dead.” Dago said his objective is to find a job in the U.S. to send money to his three kids and wife.

Maria Benavidez from the Mexican state of Michoacan lived on the exact boundary in dispute between Los Viagras and Jalisco’s New Generation Cartel, the most powerful gangs in Mexico.

"Most men are blackmailed to join the cartels."

“The day before we decided to leave, a grenade exploded in front of our house; we were in the crossfire. We were just able to hide under our beds. I had videos from that shooting, but cartels have checkpoints where they take pictures of your ID and share it with a group to see if they can let you pass. Most men are blackmailed to join the cartels, so is more difficult for them to leave”.

For now, these asylum seekers are camping on the asphalt in the hope of getting into the U.S., but they must wait at least four months to have an appointment and initiate their process. According to the Municipal Department of Migrant Attention 25,000 asylum seekers will be re-accepted in Matamoros, Ciudad Juarez, and Tijuana after this Biden program.

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