Originally Appeared in The Los Angeles Times.
By WENDY FRY
FEB 21, 2019
A small group of Central American migrants arrived in Tijuana late Wednesday from Piedras Negras where riots erupted last week, according to Mexican federal police.
The group is part of a larger caravan of 1,800 people who arrived last week at the U.S.-Mexico border across from Eagle Pass, Texas.
There, the Rio Bravo river separates Texas from the isolated Mexican border city of Piedras Negras where Mexican officials locked the migrants into a makeshift shelter, until conditions deteriorated so badly that they tried breaking through the security barriers last Wednesday.
Mexican officials closed the shelter in Piedras Negras on Tuesday and sent the migrants to different, larger border cities like Tijuana, Juarez, Hermosillo, Monterrey and Reynosa.
Local officials in Piedras Negras paid to bus the caravan travelers to other, larger cities, a psychologist with Doctors Without Borders told the Los Angeles Times.
Federal police said 33 people, including 13 children, were bused to Tijuana and then to Desayunador Padre Chava, a Catholic-run soup kitchen within blocks of the U.S.-Mexico border.
A Padre Chava employee said the group had already left for another shelter in central Tijuana by late Wednesday afternoon.
The newly arrived migrants will likely join growing wait lists of asylum seekers, as the U.S. expands a new policy having migrants remain in Mexico after asking the U.S. for asylum protection.
Already, other asylum seekers have been turned back in Tijuana, and Trump administration officials have said they planned to expand the policy to other cities in Mexico.
In November, some 6,000 Central American migrants arrived in Tijuana carrying backpacks, tents and sleeping bags, while authorities scrambled to open emergency shelters.
Conditions in the city-run Benito Juárez emergency shelter deteriorated badly after heavy rains, drawing international criticism and media attention.
A temporary federal shelter was opened on the eastern outskirts of Tijuana, which closed around the same time the latest caravan left Honduras.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Tijuana’s mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum have been very critical of the caravans, with Trump vowing to stop the latest group in its tracks and Gastélum promising Tijuana “won’t spend a single peso” on aid for them.
Gastélum said Mexican federal authorities encouraged the latest caravan to go to cities other than Tijuana.
Some Tijuana residents protested the arrival of Central Americans in November, and a few threw rocks and canisters of tear gas at them while they slept.
The migrants, mostly from Honduras, have said they are fleeing poverty, gang violence and extortion in their home countries. Many have said traveling together in caravans provides safety.
Mexican immigration officials said of the 6,000 Central Americans that came in November, about 4,000 went to the U.S., about 1,000 voluntarily returned to their home countries and about 1,000 stayed in Tijuana, finding jobs and apartments. Some of those 1,000 in Tijuana are still planning to try to cross into the United States, legally or illegally.