Mi­grants in Ti­juana still are hop­ing to en­ter US

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - News - BY PAULINA VIL­LE­GAS

TI­JUANA, MEX­ICO

Life in Ti­juana’s largest mi­grant shel­ter has be­gun to take on the fa­mil­iar rhythms and sounds of a Cen­tral Amer­i­can neigh­bor­hood: Early in the morn­ing, adults rise and get ready to go to work. Chil­dren dress for school. Moth­ers gather huge bun­dles of dirty clothes for the day’s wash. Ven­dors hawk cof­fee.

“We are get­ting used to this life,” said Norma Pérez, 40, who left Hon­duras in a mi­grant car­a­van bound for the United States about two months ago with her 5-year-old son.

For weeks, they walked from Cen­tral Amer­ica up to the Mex­i­can bor­der with the United States, flee­ing poverty and vi­o­lence. All along the way, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­scribed the mi­grants as a dan­ger, as in­vaders try­ing to crash their way into the United States. But they didn’t stop their trek north.

When they ar­rived at the bor­der, Ti­juana was not ready for them. The con­di­tions were de­plorable, and the mi­grants were sur­prised they would not be able to ap­ply for asy­lum right away. Twice, groups of mi­grants ap­proached the bor­der fence and were re­pelled by Bor­der Pa­trol agents us­ing tear gas and pep­per spray.

But now, life for many of the new ar­rivals has set­tled down.

Mex­ico’s new pres­i­dent, An­drés Manuel López Obrador, has be­gun to make good on prom­ises to cre­ate al­ter­na­tives to im­mi­gra­tion, and he has rolled out a plan to in­crease wages along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

And the mi­grants them­selves have be­gun to cre­ate a sense of com­mu­nity in the shel­ters here, like the city’s largest, known as El Bar­retal. They said they have no in­ten­tion of turn­ing back.

Trump “should per­son­ally go to Hon­duras so he can see with his own eyes that we sim­ply can’t go back, that there are no jobs, no com­pa­nies, noth­ing,” Pérez said.

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