TIJUANA, Mexico — In 2016, when as many as 3,000 Haitians who fled Hurricane Matthew ended up caught in Tijuana with no authorized means north, locals and leaders supplied housing, clothes and jobs.
“It is one thing individuals in Tijuana would cite with pleasure,” mentioned Everard Meade, director of the Trans Border Institute on the College of San Diego. He summarizes Tijuana’s response: “The US could not do something for them, however we did.”
Mexico has lengthy been a welcoming crossroads of the Americas with Tijuana its northern beacon. However this time, with an estimated 10,000 Central American migrants aiming to cross the U.S. border, good will is fading and hostility is rising.
Tijuana’s conservative mayor, Juan Manuel Gastelum, has complained bitterly concerning the inflow, native information retailers have requested who organized the caravan and social media platforms have unfold tales of Central People utilizing medication.
“Human rights needs to be reserved for righteous people,” Gastelum mentioned final week.
Like many locations on the earth, Tijuana has been infatuated with the form of neo-nationalism embraced by President Trump, and a few political leaders are all too prepared to faucet it for headlines, Meade mentioned.
“Trump has contaminated the mayor of Tijuana,” mentioned Enrique Morones, founding father of Border Angels, a pro-migrant group with members within the U.S. and Mexico.
On Wednesday, not-in-my-backyard locals in upper-middle-class Playas de Tijuana neighborhood, the place some migrants are staying, clashed bodily with a few of the newcomers.
“There are a whole lot of expressions of xenophobia in opposition to them,” mentioned Victor Clark-Alfaro, a San Diego State College Latin American research professor who lives in Tijuana.” There is a division in our society as a result of there are extra individuals who residents do not wish to be right here.”
Protesters deliberate to rally Sunday on the monument to Aztec ruler Cuauhtémoc within the metropolis’s Zona Rio purchasing and nightlife district in opposition to the estimated 2,600 migrants in Tijuana
At a information convention Saturday outdoors Border Angels’ Playas de Tijuana migrant shelter, the group’s president emeritus, Sara Gurling, referred to as the mayor’s quip on human rights “very harmful.”
“Folks of excellent conscience should be calling on this mayor to cease these phrases,” she mentioned. “He is calling on the worst of the human spirit to stand up in opposition to probably the most susceptible.”
However the mayor discovered a problem that resonates. He has generated headlines in america, the place the conservative Day by day Caller famous that Gastelum describes the Central American migrants as an unwelcome “horde.”
Santiago Alvarado, 29, watched the pro-migrant information convention with skepticism.
“Individuals are afraid to come back right here,” he mentioned, surveying a seashore divided by bollards that mark the border. Alvarado mentioned the caravan was crammed with MS-13 gang members, a declare discounted by these touring with the migrants. “They’ve a whole lot of mara salvatruchas.”
He echoed one other declare amongst a few of the migrants’ critics in Tijuana: “They don’t seem to be grateful for what individuals have finished for them.”
“This nation will not be yours,” he mentioned.
Meade of the College of San Diego mentioned that whereas native and state governments won’t have the sources to assist the migrants, it will not possible turn into a humanitarian disaster in Tijuana, as some have predicted.
He mentioned there are millions of job openings, significantly within the manufacturing and development industries, in Tijuana, a metro space with as much as 2 million residents.
“Anybody can work in Tijuana proper now,” he mentioned.
Some in Playas de Tijuana are upset as a result of the caravan impressed Trump to harden border crossings by closing lanes on the Southwest ports of entry, making life depressing for an estimated 30,000 Tijuana residents who work in america.
“I used to be born and raised in Tijuana,” mentioned resident Marco-Antonio Gonzalez, 47, who mentioned his two sons had been residing in america as residents. “The way in which this [caravan] was finished was disrespectful. They trigger hassle. We do not know who they’re.”
He mentioned he is seen migrants toss undesirable meals and discard donated clothes that is not brand-name.
“You need to be humble,” Gonzalez mentioned.
However Honduran Freddy Mendez, 33, mentioned he solely got here to Tijuana to get to the opposite aspect. He emphasised he was grateful regardless that he is confronted “a whole lot of criticism” right here.
“Yo soy muy agradecido,” he mentioned — “I’m very grateful.”
As migrants arrange tents at a neighborhood sports activities park and others stayed in church buildings and the half-dozen shelters within the space, Border Angels’ chief in Tijuana, Hugo Castro, mentioned, “There’s an setting of concern.”
The vacationers have been on foot for weeks, generally for 12 or extra hours a day, he mentioned, and that may imply they do not seem like enthusiastic.
“They’re very drained,” Castro mentioned.
On the seashore, households frolicked within the water. The autumn solar was brighter than chrome. A mariscos joint blasted a cumbia model of native son Carlos Santana’s “Oye Como Va” on a loudspeaker.
Whilst she kneeled within the sand to assist a brand new arrival translate paperwork, Tijuana resident Audra Farias complained, “It is too many individuals.”
The individual she was serving to was Leonel Lagos, 23, of Honduras, who carried photocopies of images of his gutted dwelling, destroyed by gangsters who had been attempting to shake him down. He hoped to use for asylum within the U.S.
Requested if it was true that migrants had been doing medication and displaying ungrateful attitudes, Lagos, who seemed to be exhausted as he slumped on the seashore, surrounded by the curious, shrugged.
“I simply bought right here,” he mentioned.
It is unlikely the migrants shall be granted asylum, consultants say, however those that make it to the border crossing shall be greeted with a sculpture, modeled after Philadelphia’s Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture. It reads TJTQ, for Tijuana Loves You.