Faith groups in Tijuana rise to meet needs of migrant caravan waiting at the border

Honduran migrants ask for food from a mobile aid group in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 29, 2018. RNS photo by Jair Cabrera Torres

TIJUANA, Mexico (RNS) — The bulk of the migrant caravan that started out from Central America this fall has reached the United States’ border with Mexico, and the city of Tijuana is overwhelmed by more than 6,000 people who have arrived, many hoping to gain political asylum in the United States.

Although accustomed to constant traffic across the border, Tijuana is not fully prepared to accept such a large group for an unknown amount of time.  Nonetheless, the Central American migrants have seemingly been welcomed thus far, in part thanks to religious groups that are organizing to help manage the sudden influx.

Central American migrants line up to eat breakfast at the Salesian order’s Padre Chava Refectory, in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 29, 2018. RNS photo by Jair Cabrera Torres

The Salesian Refuge of Tijuana, run by members of the Roman Catholic Salesian order, manages the Padre Chava Refectory, located north of Tijuana, just a few meters from the border. The refectory has been serving meals for more than 19 years. Typically, the Salesians serve 800 breakfasts per day to migrants and street people in Tijuana. However, the group plans to offer three meals per day to help the migrant caravan. Last week the group was already serving more than 1,200 breakfasts alone.

Situations like this are not new for the Salesians, whose main objective is to help vulnerable people and migrants in particular. In late 2016, another migrant group, consisting of about 3,000 Haitians, became stranded at the border. The Salesians helped find shelter for many of them in the Mexican state of Baja California, after they were denied asylum in the U.S.

Volunteers with a mobile unit of the Church of the Nazarene in Mexico treat a migrant’s head lice and offer other medical care in Tijuana, Mexico. RNS photo by Jair Cabrera Torres

Similarly, the Church of the Nazarene in Mexico has installed a mobile unit on the outskirts of the Salesian shelter to address the migrants’ medical needs. Many of the Central Americans arrived with lice, bedbugs and a plethora of other ailments after trekking several thousand miles.

Aside from large religious groups, some individuals are proselytizing to migrants, or at least hoping to help with spiritual needs in addition to the myriad external needs the caravan members face. Pastor Jorge Guillermo Santos Ríos offers nightly prayers, and dozens have come asking for a little hope in achieving the American dream.

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Jair Cabrera Torres


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  • To the easily panicked, please note, this is a group whose current plans are to obey U.S. law by presenting themselves at the border to seek asylum. A group which is smaller than:
    – Mezzanine seating at a Katy Perry concert
    -The crowd of any given Wal-Mart on a weekend
    -The people at Trump’s inauguration
    -2 cruise ship embarkments
    -The line for Space Mountain at Disneyworld

    There are nearly enough troops to walk in each adult member of the group in a 1 to 1 ratio.

  • All those distressed and desperate souls are 21st-century citizens interacting with 19th-century institutions based on 15th-century information processes.

    This obsolete, defective and pathetic global financial system being exploited by the 1% must be revamped and Saske(SXAS) needs to continue its gamification of the distribution of money.

  • Umm, no. First, that’s not the only group (see link). Plus the Tijuana group ain’t waiting for laws, applications, and Yes or No decisions, unless forced to. 500 of them overran police barricades on the Mexican side, and forced the closure of the San Ysidro crossing.

    Plus I suspect the overwhelmed residents of Tijuana are no longer in the mood to hear about Katy Perry and Space Mountain, especially given what happened at the Benito Juarez sports coliseum.

    (Kudos to the Salesians, Nazarenes, and other caring church folks, by the way. But kudos to Trump as well, for not caving in to the Open Borders movement.)

    Meanwhile, let’s look at this little postcard from Yuma:

  • As I said, I was addressing the easily panicked.

    Concentrating a large mass of people into a hostile population in an area known for crime, corruption and narco traffic is not a sane response to a refugee wave. The president’s refusal to follow our own laws and usual procedures for handling refugees and asylum seekers is creating the problem. Mostly by trying to pawn it off on Mexico.

    My examples were used to show this is a crowd which does not present a problem for law enforcement personnel of any small to mid sized city when given sufficient numbers and time to prepare. Hardly an invasion, hardly a threat requiring tear gas. One which the US has a long history of handling in a far better fashion and involving more people.

    But since we have a white supremacist for a president, he has used it as an election ploy and political tool to shore up support from racists. 11 people were murdered in a Pittsburgh synagogue because a neo-nazi was inspired by the White House’s panic rhetoric and spreading of anti-semtic rumors concerning George Soros. Of course all the president could comment on at the mass funeral was how people reacted to his presence.

    “Meanwhile, let’s look at this little postcard from Yuma:”
    If people are seeking asylum, they are not illegal aliens. Even if they cross the border illegally. Especially since they plan to present themselves for asylum application.

  • A. “Asylum?” That’s false, right Spuddie?
    B. And do you really expect us to give you any credibility when YOU state the intentions of 2000+ total strangers? Really?
    C. It reportedly costs $200,000 to raise a child in the US. Let’s get conservative and say that they’ll bring in or have 500 kids and contribute $25,000 of that amount. 500 X $175,000 = $87,000,000. Who’s supposed to pay for that, Spuddie? The Honduran maid with the 2 kids in that tear gas photo? The rest of us? California reportedly spent $3 billion dollars on health care in 2013 for illegales. That’s one state, one year, and one industry.
    Doesn’t include incarceration, welfare, etc. How about we fix our crumbling bridges, then worry about allowing people in?

  • A. Wrong. They are seeking asylum and looking to present themselves to file for such status.

    B. LOL! Of course. So its OK when you do so in the prior paragraph, but not when I did it previously. Riiight

    C. There is always voluntary self extinction if having children is such a difficulty for society

    Your numbers are off quite a bit. Its $3 billion for the entire nation for undocumented workers. Which is subsidized by their labor. Especially since they are still paying sales taxes and their landlords are paying property taxes which go to the states.

    Moreover those granted asylum status are LEGAL RESIDENTS. Referring to illegal aliens in this situation is a deflection.

    Basically its the nonsense Schrodinger’s Immigrant: Somehow an immigrant lounges all day taking welfare while simultaneously stealing your job.

    “Doesn’t include incarceration, welfare, etc. How about we fix our crumbling bridges, then worry about allowing people in?”

    Then vote Democrat.

    Republicans would rather spend money on incarceration, giveaways to the wealthy, and a bloated military than infrastructure.

  • I asked a legit question which is hardly the same as you stating fact, especially when you have no way of knowing. Just because they and or some journalists claim they are seeking asylum, doesn’t mean they are. Again, how is their situation a case of asylum seeking and not income seeking? $3 billion is still WAY too much! Property tax and sales tax don’t go toward medical care. You’re on point sometimes. Definitely not this time.

  • No you didn’t. You made a false assumption and worked from there.

    The entire point of the caravan, such a large and conspicuous movement of people was to present themselves as a refugee wave, as asylum seekers. If they were intending to come here as migrant workers, they would have used a far less visible and dispersed method. That is just applying some common sense to the situation.

    They are coming here in a manner similar to other refugee waves the US has handled before with a lot less hysteria. Of course we also had presidents in the recent past who respected asylum laws, status and procedures. The current one wasted billions holding children for ransom to coerce people from waiving asylum claims.

    “Just because they and or some journalists claim they are seeking asylum, doesn’t mean they are.”

    Of course it does. Unless you have some source which says otherwise. Which you didn’t bother with. Just because you want to ignore a news story, doesn’t mean it does not exist.

    “Property tax and sales tax don’t go toward medical care.”

    Yes they do. They are state and local taxes which go right into state and local based services.
    The issue is moot anyway because those granted asylum are green card holders and pay taxes.

  • Exactly, Spuddie!! You’re learning!! The way I “worked from there” or tested my assumption was to ASK you 2 questions which were ” “Asylum?” That’s false, right Spuddie?” See those two question marks? They indicate questions. Unlike you who makes assumptions, then presents them as fact.