Hope for Central American migrant caravan as US crossings increase

Latin America

In this file photo, a father and his son await tutorship by immigration lawyers in Tijuana, Mexico, Friday, April 27, 2018. Close to to 200 migrants from Central America, mostly from Honduras, arrived in Tijuana seeking to enter the United States. (AP Photo/Hans-Maximo Musielik)

The pace of processing Central American migrants appeared to pick up Thursday at Mexico’s border with the U.S. At least 70 more migrants were allowed to cross the border to apply for U.S. asylum–that is in addition to more than 80 already let through. But dozens remain, and their ultimate goal of obtaining legal status in the United States remains a long way off.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports from the border camp.

Thursday began positively for the Central American migrant caravan, which has been camped at the U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico, since Sunday. Early in the morning, U.S. border officials appeared before their makeshift camp with a list of 70 names. They were all caravan members to be brought into America to plead for asylum.

The development sent waves of hope through the migrants who remain, facing an uncertain wait.

“It has been very hard, but we have been patient, and now I feel very happy because it looks like we are going to get across,” said Mariana Flores, one of about 200 migrants who reached the border on Sunday night. “All this is going to finish. We don’t know when we will cross, but we must be patient.”

Yet the U.S. selection method nevertheless provoked some unanticipated and undesirable scenarios. Elvira Ramos watched as her husband and three-year -old daughter’s names were called. But she and her youngest, one-year-old Fernanda, were not on the list. Seeing her family split in two has been heartbreaking for the 22-year-old migrant.

“I feel very sad, because my daughter has gone across, and I have been left here with her little sister,” she told CGTN. “She’s gone with her dad. I know I will be with them, but I don’t know when.”

For those who remain, another night in Tijuana can be a daunting experience. Situated at the U.S.-Mexico border, the city receives more migrants and deportees than any other place in Mexico, and it’s estimated that 20-percent of the town’s population at any time are transient.

Every morning, the Padre Chava canteen in Tijuana offers a free breakfast to as many has 1,200 migrants and deportees, who say the city is a difficult place to live in limbo. Diego Hernandez is one of those U.S. deportees. He was waiting in line for his breakfast when CGTN spoke to him.

“People don’t have work,” he said, “They’re looking for work, they’re out of their city from the United States, and now they’re here in Tijuana. All of sudden they’re here in Tijuana, and you hardly know they place, you don’t know around here, you don’t know the streets, you’re just lost, you’re lost, in a different world.”

Members of the migrant caravan say they don’t want to stay in Tijuana, and the sooner they can cross the border, the better. But many migrants are heartened by seeing their travelling compatriots accepted across the border into the U.S. They hold onto the hope that it’s only a matter of time before their names are also called.