Thousands of deported Haitians and Africans wait to cross the border in Tijuana


By Aida Chavez, Konbini, March 15, 2017

In recent years the number of deportees living in El Bordo zone that forms part of the drainage system from the Tijuana River located at the border with San Diego has escalated to catastrophic levels. According to the National Institute of Migration, this community of deported migrants is formed mainly of Haitian and African refugees, and between 2016 and 2017 reached almost 3,700 people – all stranded in Tijuana and hoping for re-entrance to the US.

The deportees, waiting to pass into the United States without documentation, are living in impoverished conditions where drugs (especially heroin) are only too easy to come by due to the presence of organized crime at the border.  

The Haitians and Africans are subjected to total impoverishment at the North Mexican border, many of them are survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Recently, this community decided to establish a colony that is now known as “Little Haiti”, a destitute version of New York's “Little Korea”.

The problem that the inhabitants of this colony face is that they are living a stones-throw away from a small canal in improvised accommodations made from found wood and sheets of metal. In the rainy season, this becomes a real danger as the drainage that runs down this stream overflows and floods their houses with black water.  

Gustavo Banda, a pastor from the Evangelical Church of Tijuana, began to build 22 homes for the refugees in this colony. In an interview with Zeta newspaper, he explained:

"The necessity arose because in the hostel I have 225 people who aren't going to get in to the United States. We can't let them live here forever, they need to have their own homes."
The inefficiency of the Mexican government was demonstrated yet again when the Mexican Commission to Aid Refugees and the INM only managed to obtain 131 people migratory passes; 76 will get visitors cards for humanitarian reasons and 55 will get refugee status. If their situation stabilises, they will have the opportunity to gain legal employment and leave their impoverished "city". The United Nations High Commission for Refugees indicated recently that the situation at the North Mexican border was very close to converting into a humanitarian crisis.

It seems there will be a pilot program, set up by the Bar (of lawyers) that will see the Mexican government emitting humanitarian visas for thousands of stranded refugees in Tijuana. This initiative came about when a civil association decided to put pressure on the local and federal government to react to the crisis.

Araceli Almaraz, investigator of the College at the Northern Border, is following the case closely hand is looking into the possibility of textile factories offering employment to this community. In an interview, the investigator said the majority of Haitian and African migrants and refugees have a mid to high level of education. 

Not counting the pilot programs organized by the civil association, the Mexican government have still not made any movements to build a hospital to aid the migrants.


Posted March 19, 2017