The port of entry from Tijuana into the U.S. closed for several hours on Monday for U.S. officials to erect extra security barriers. The officials said they were afraid a wave of migrants from Central America might storm the crossing and overwhelm agents.
At present, U.S. authorities in Tijuana can only process around 100 asylum claims per day, which means the 3,000 migrants who recently arrived in the city have a long wait ahead of them. To make matters worse, as many as 10,000 migrants could pour into the city in the coming weeks.
Joel Collado, one of the migrant caravan organizers, said that some of the migrants in Tijuana cannot afford long delays.
“We are asking President Trump and the authorities to increase the number of people being admitted, which will help us overcome the uncertainty. We must remember there are children, pregnant women and old people here,” said Collado.
The migrants will have their asylum claims reviewed, but the rate of approval is low. Jan Joseph Bejar, an immigration attorney from San Diego, has been closely watching the caravan’s progress.
“Each asylum application is supposed to be done, assuming the U.S. government does it properly and lawfully, on a case-by-case basis. You don’t admit people en masse. When people come up in vast numbers, it’s impossible to determine who is going to get in, who is not. The United States grants very few asylum applications if you compare it with the number of people who actually apply,” said Bejar.
As the caravan waits, the city of Tijuana has become responsible for the migrants’ care. But Tijuana’s mayor said the migrant caravan is overwhelming the city’s social services. Some migrants have already been in the city for weeks, with nowhere else to go.
“We’ve been here for a month and a half, hoping that they can help us with something,” said Guadalupe Mondragon, a Mexican migrant.
Tijuana’s mayor estimates that the migrants could be stranded in the city for at least six months, while U.S. authorities process their asylum applications.