Refugee Exodus Update & Action Items
The world is witnessing a growing humanitarian crisis. At CARECEN, our team of legal staff and organizers are bearing witness as events unfold at the border. Weeks prior to the Central American caravan arriving at our nearest port of entry in Tijuana, we have been working closely with two community centers turned shelters that have been assisting refuges and asylum seekers over recent years. We will be continuously providing updates, so please be sure to check in with us on our website or social media channels:
US border agents attacked Central American refugees and asylum seekers by firing teargas and rubber bullets that injured several—including a young child who ended up hospitalized. The US government is doing everything possible to slow down, drastically limit or outright deny the process of seeking asylum. Last week heavy rainfall had another devastating impact on the shelters. The Benito Juarez Sports Complex closed down due to flooding.
Now, more than 2,500 people have relocated to El Barretal—a shelter that stands 40 minutes away from the border. Hundreds have chosen to repatriate themselves due to the insecurity and limited resources; the Mexican government has forcibly deported many others. There is a zero-tolerance policy and Mexican authorities are using the slightest reason to arrest, process and deport—sometimes with less than 24 hours.
In El Barretal the conditions have improved. Women and children are stationed in a designated area with a roof and a cement floor. Alternatively, the large majority of young and single men are in an open cement area. Though they are no longer sleeping in the dirt, the conditions are extremely precarious. The rest of the asylum seekers have dispersed; most shelters are at full capacity, churches have taken some people in and others have moved to other ports of entry.
The US continues to impede the rights of asylum seekers to lawfully turn themselves in at the port of entry. Days after they were attacked with teargas, some asylum seekers went on a hunger strike to solicit the support of US and Mexico governments in speeding up the processing. There has not been any response.
The status of unaccompanied children is very concerning. They are particularly vulnerable and volunteers, and legal observers have personally witnessed them being physically barred from asking for asylum by CBP officials. They are forced out and have been handed to Mexican officials.
We’ve learned that Mexican officials have been given orders to detain any children that are unaccompanied so that DIF can process them. This is completely arbitrary and unsafe. We know that some minors have been deported without the opportunity to ask for asylum, and some have been detained for weeks in unknown facilities.
Overall, the situation is devastating but hopeful. We have witnessed a tremendous growth in support from volunteers all around the world. Individuals and groups have donated resources, money and time to ensure that these children, families and asylum seekers have access to justice. Organizations like Al Otro Lado have coordinated hundreds of volunteers; centers like Enclave Caracol and Casa Y have redistributed resources and hosted hundreds of trainings, and consultations.
We ask that you continue to stay involved. Even as the media stops reporting on the issue, know that this is an ongoing crisis that needs continued engagement and support. We will attempt to do our part, and we ask you to join us.
Here are ways you can contribute or volunteer:
Please note that the redistribution of the funds collected will be going to two reliable shelters CARECEN has identified and continues to work closely with: Enclave Caracol and Casas Y. We will also be allocating a portion of the proceeds to an emergency fund that will purchase immediate necessities, such as food, tents, and other supplies.
Donation Drop Off:
Enclave Caracol Community Center
Address: Calle Primera 8250, Zona Nte.
22127 Tijuana, BC, Mexico
Hours: Normal Business Hours; 7 days a Week
Otay Detention Resistance
Centro Cultural de la Raza
Address: 2004 Park Blvd.,
San Diego, CA 92101, US
Hours: Tues-Thurs 12pm-4pm
Al Otro Lado
National Lawyers Guild
LA for Refugee Rights Medical Brigade
Official Statements Regarding the Exodus: