About 100 members of the police, National Guard and military on Sunday expelled 381 migrants, mostly Central Americans and Mexicans, from a makeshift camp they had been staying in for nearly a year in Tijuana, Mexico. US border crossing.
The migrants’ tents around the El Chaparral crossing were demolished with the help of excavators and trucks while their inhabitants loaded their few belongings into bags and suitcases to transfer them to three local shelters.
“It was a relocation that had to be done with care to avoid a collapse,” Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero Ramírez told reporters, saying the families were living in a state of “insecurity” for health reasons. .
Caballero Ramírez said the eviction was peaceful and denied that the decision to dismantle the camp was a response to US pressure.
“You know Tijuana is governed by its own legal standards,” she said.
The 381 migrants, made up of 86 families, 24 single mothers with children, 33 men and three members of the LGBT community, were transferred to the migrant reception center, the Salesian project and the migrant sanctuary, she said. declared.
“It’s inhuman because they did it at dawn and the children were sleeping,” said Mexican migrant Guadalupe Omeca, who had been living in the camp for seven months with her three children, grandson and his companion.
The “El Chaparral” camp began to form in late January 2021, with the arrival of the Biden administration, after US authorities began limiting the flow of migrants in accordance with policies that require migrants to wait in Mexico for their immigration court hearings as well as for pandemic health measures.
The camp had become a headache for authorities in both countries as it affected traffic on one of three crosswalks into the US city of San Diego.
Activists and humanitarian organizations had expressed concern about the situation of migrants, many of them children, living in the makeshift camp. Last year, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission urged Mexican authorities to ensure respect for the human rights of migrants and provide them with protection.
Some activists and migrant rights advocates criticized Sunday’s deportation.
“Migrants from Central America and displaced Mexicans are human beings. They do not pose a threat to Mexico,” Wilner Metelus, president of the Citizens’ Committee for the Defense of Naturalized and Afro-Mexicans, said on his Twitter account, calling the expulsion from the camp a “disgrace.”
Honduran migrant Marleni Hernández complained that the authorities treated them “as if we were criminals”.
“It’s hard, it’s not easy,” she said, her eyes filling with tears as she acknowledged she felt very vulnerable being in a foreign country with two young daughters.