We had to get tourist cards in Tijuana at the border and pay the fee to allow us to stay in Mexico 180 days. So off we went from Rosarito Beach on a colectivo ride (shared taxi in a passenger van) to a city with an estimated 1.7 million people.
Plus an unknown number of migrants from all over the world.
Just this week we had read about how Haitians are virtually trapped at the Tijuana border. They are waiting to see if they can gain entry to the luckiest country on the planet – the U.S. In the meantime, they live in shelters, if they are lucky enough to find an open bed.
Sometimes they get small jobs so they can buy some comforts, like food, cell phone minutes, or a bed in a cheap hotel for a night or two.
As reported by some news agencies and non-profit human rights groups, Tijuana is bursting at the seems with migrant issues. It’s not only Haitians, although their influx certainly adds stress to an already strained system.
We saw only a tiny part of the issue on a stroll down some streets that aren’t frequented by tourists. I can tell you the situation is sad.
Haitian migration intensified following the 2010 earthquake, and just last month, the U.S. discontinued temporary stays for Haitians. Add Hurricane Matthew’s fallout to this equation, and this basically means these Haitians are stuck. They have no choice but to stay put, for now, and remain hopeful they can gain entry to the U.S.
For the most part, it seems the Mexicans are doing everything they can to help the Haitians and all other migrants, despite having fewer resources than Americans.
Father Pat Murphy runs a shelter to help migrants. We didn’t go there, but it’s obvious he truly cares about this humanitarian issue. He wrote this moving piece if you want to know more or if you want to help. The shelter, Casa del Migrante en Tijuana, also has a Facebook page.