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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Caravan travelers find they’re unwelcome in Tijuana

Disillusionment for hundreds after a month on the road

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Two Central American migrants on Wednesday walk along the top of the border structure separating Mexico and the United States in Tijuana. Photo: AP / Gregory Bull

Tijuana, Baja Calif. — A grueling trek through mountains and deserts, lasting 3,000 miles in sweltering heat and tropical downpours, has left migrants somewhat deflated upon their unwelcome reception in this sprawling border city.

“Everywhere in Mexico, people treated us so nicely — they gave us food, water, places to stay,” said Honduran migrant Ana Lidia Cruz, 38. “But here, they don’t seem to want us. We’re all tired, and a bit disillusioned.”

She and her two teenage children, Honduran citizens, are among the members of the migrant caravan that drew the ire of President Donald Trump and became an incendiary issue in the run-up to the U.S. midterm election.

Hundreds of Central American caravan members have been arriving in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego. Thousands more are expected through the weekend.

At the upscale Playas de Tijuana district, residents protested their presence, and police responded when fighting broke out between locals and the caravan.

Many migrants headed for a sports center where municipal authorities had set up a temporary shelter, with mattresses, food and other necessities.

By midday Thursday, more than 500 migrants had registered at the sports complex, authorities said. The site can hold about 1,000 people, but officials are bracing for 5,000 migrants.

The exhausted migrants who made it to Tijuana seemed taken aback by what they found here, according to a Los Angeles Times reporter.

Many travelers were also struck by the high border wall, in places consisting of two or three layers of metal barriers, and the large contingent of U.S. Border Patrol officers lurking on the other side.

“They are on horses, in trucks, on motorbikes,” said Alejandra Hernandez, 26, who was seated in the beachside plaza in Playas de Tijuana with an expansive view of the Pacific, the border fence plunging into the surf and the gathered Border Patrol officers on the other side.

“I didn’t expect it to be like this,” said Hernandez, a Honduran who was traveling with her 7-year-old daughter, Joana. “It looks like something on TV.”

Lines of migrants walked along the highway from the beach toward the sports complex, about two miles away, sometimes with police cruisers trailing behind.

At the sports facility, about a block from the rusted border fence, the migrants were provided with orange identification bracelets.

“I understand that many people here in Tijuana are nervous about us, but we didn’t come here to cause any problems,” said Edy Rivera, 37, a farmer from Honduras who said he hoped to find work in the United States and send money home to his wife and three children. “We are just passing through. We plan to get in line at the border and present ourselves legally. Hopefully, the American president will find it in his heart to let us in.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

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