‘I am going to ask for a chance. If they give it to me, I will be very grateful. If not, Mexico is very big and beautiful…’
(Javier Tovar, AFP) Much like Democrats in the U.S. Congress, the Mexican government—after being forced to take ownership of the asylum-seekers it helped usher to the U.S. border—is now complaining of a crisis, unable to accommodate those it must take in.
Under a deal effectively imposed upon Mexico by President Donald Trump to spare it from punishing tariffs, migrants who cross into the U.S. illegally are no longer allowed to wait north of the border while their applications are processed. They are sent back to Mexico.
“And that means shelters in border regions are full,” complained Jose Maria Garcia, who runs a migrant shelter called Juventud 2000, just a stone’s throw from the border.
“People come from all over, and those who manage to get in are returned to Mexico. And that is causing us overcrowding,” said Garcia.
Life for asylum seekers is full of anxiety — and further complicated by the Trump administration’s drive to crack down on undocumented foreigners.
In a dark, crowded and stifling warehouse in Mexico that is home to some 150 migrants waiting for the United States to process their asylum claims, most just sit and stare off into space as they kill time, day after day, waiting in Tijuana to see if the U.S. will take them in.
Most are Central Americans who claim to be fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries and hoping to win refugee status in the United States.
But while Democrats have continued to encourage open borders, promising not only sanctuary but free education and healthcare to illegals who violate the nation’s sovereign laws, even those on the Left now recognize that the problem has reached critical mass.
The latest thrust came Monday with news from the Justice Department—following long-running efforts by activist judges to delay the policy with injunctions—that any migrant who enters the United States from the southern border and has not asked for asylum in any of the countries they cross to get there would be ineligible for asylum in the U.S.
The Madre Asunta Institute, another shelter a few miles away from Juventud 2000, was originally designed for 44 people but now houses 130. The managers do whatever they can to avoid turning people away.
“We squeeze them in somehow,” said a smiling Sister Salome Limas, who has worked there for six years.
Even so, it has surpassed its capacity several times since a huge exodus U.S.-bound migrants began in 2015 and 2016.
Prior to that, many already had begun sending unaccompanied minors to the U.S., following former President Barack Obama’s decree that he would not enforce immigration laws on them.
But a court ruling that amended to the Flores settlement of the 1990s allowing parents with children to be released into the U.S. after 20 days or less in detention spurred a new wave of family units to exploit the asylum loopholes in the legal system.
Mexican shelters fear things will get much worse if Trump goes through with threats to carrying out mass deportations of undocumented foreigners in America or return huge numbers of people living in U.S. migrant care facilities, which are also overtaxed beyond capacity.
“They sweep them out to Mexico like garbage,” complained Hugo Castro of a non-governmental organization called Border Angels.
The problem has led to a scourge of drug cartels and gang violence on both sides of the border, along with the ever-present threat of death by the elements during the journey.
Still, many prefer the conditions to those they encountered in their home countries.
Such is the case of a woman who asked to be identified as Maria and says that in her native Honduras, she witnessed a massacre by the ultra violent street gang MS-13 in a marketplace.
She worked as a cleaning lady in the market, and upon hearing gunshots, she hid. But gang members found her and threatened to kill her and rape her teenage daughters.
With help from a sister, she fled.
Three months later, she ended up in Tijuana.
“I never considered going to the United States before, but if I return home, they will kill me,” said Maria.
In the meantime, she waits her turn to speak to immigration authorities.
“I am going to ask for a chance. If they give it to me, I will be very grateful. If not, Mexico is very big and beautiful,” said Maria.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
© Agence France-Presse