Posted on November 30, 2018

Migrants in Tijuana Regret the Caravan: ‘I’m Done With the United States’

David Agren, Daily Beast, November 28, 2018


But the U.S. border has proved impossible so far for the more than 7,000 migrants anxiously arriving in Tijuana, where they’re waiting in the squalor of a small baseball stadium-turned-tent city. It’s just a stone’s throw from the border they hope to cross, which many could not imagine would be so difficult.


The migrants say they wanted nothing more than to ask for answers as to why they were unable to cross the border or make asylum claims.

But the tough treatment at the border brought home a rude reality for many migrants in the caravan: that their idealized vision of the United States — a kind and just country willing to welcome people wanting nothing more than to work or seek safety — has put obstacles in their path.


At the Chaparral border crossing, Central American migrants and Mexicans hailing from states rife with violence lined up to put their name on a list to have their claims heard.

Jeffrey Renderos, 31, put his name in a ledger and received a ticket with the number 1655. Renderos, a bearded Honduran who fled gang threats and arrived in Tijuana six months ago, figured he would wait at least a month to have a hearing — though he wasn’t complaining. He couldn’t contain his scorn for the caravan, however.

“If they acted like civilized people, it would be different,” he said. When asked why he held such a poor opinion of fellow Hondurans, he responded, “You saw the way they clashed with police?”

The arrival of so many caravan travelers and images of clashes with police have exposed an unseemly underbelly of xenophobia. A poll in the newspaper El Universal showed 49 percent of Mexicans saying caravans shouldn’t be allowed to cross the country.


“It’s anti-poor people,” said Javier Urbano, a professor at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, who studies immigration. Immigration from the United States, Canada and Europe was been welcomed, he said — in contrast to Central Americans — as such migrants tend to be whiter and come from wealthier countries middle class Mexicans say they want to emulate.

Some migrant activists have questioned the wisdom of convening caravans, saying the tensions in Tijuana were predictable — especially as so many migrants arriving in one place would inevitably strain resources.

“What we’ve worried about is the closing of the border, the (colder) climate in northern Mexico… and organized crime,” said Jorge Andrade, director of a collective of migrant shelters that stretch the length of the country.


Corrales, wearing a yellow soccer jersey, expressed few complaints with the camp, where he sold single cigarettes to fellow migrants. He thought the caravan’s experience crossing into Guatemala and Mexico would prove the template for the U.S. border.

But now, “I’m done with the United States. I’ll stay here.”