Posted on December 6, 2018

Pueblo Sin Fronteras Uses Caravans to Shine Light on the Plight of Migrants — But Has That Backfired?

Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2018

As a cold rain fell in Tijuana, a group of Central Americans faced off with Mexican police sent to block them from launching a hunger strike near the U.S. border.

Leading the migrants were activists from the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders.

The small collective of volunteers based in the U.S. and Mexico helped create the migrant caravan trend; it organized the first caravan to the U.S. border last year and has helped guide the groups now in Tijuana.

It says the caravans help protect migrants from rape, kidnapping and other perils while drawing attention to the reasons they flee and their treatment on the journey north.

But Pueblo Sin Fronteras has drawn considerable criticism. Conservatives accuse the group of human trafficking. And some former allies on the left say it is using migrants to advance its political agenda — imperiling the people it claims to protect.

“They are helping Donald Trump say there is an invasion,” said Alejandro Solalinde, a Catholic priest and one of Mexico’s most prominent migrant activists.

Solalinde believes the caravan strategy has backfired, with images of migrants streaming north and scaling border walls helping President Trump justify harsher immigration enforcement, including sending thousands of U.S. troops to the border.

“Pueblo Sin Fronteras cheated the migrants; they told them lies that once they arrived at the border, everything would be very easy,” Solalinde said.

Instead, roughly 6,000 migrants have been left stranded in this sprawling industrial city — with most living off handouts from volunteer groups in government-run shelters — as U.S. officials at the border generally accept no more than 100 asylum applications each day.


Another march in Tijuana led in part by Pueblo Sin Fronteras turned violent last month after some migrants pushed past Mexican police and sought to scale a border fence into San Diego. Several migrants were injured when U.S. authorities responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.