SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Border Angels, a San Diego-based migrant advocacy group, is condemning the dismantling of the migrant camp in Tijuana during a pre-dawn operation that evicted about 380 migrants from the site on Sunday.
In a statement, Dulce Garcia, executive director of the group, said the displacement “caused chaos, psychological and emotional trauma, loss of personal property, and widespread unnecessary fear among the migrant population.”
Garcia added the event “fostered xenophobia in the region.”
The city of Tijuana and the state of Baja California have said the migrants were moved out for the sake of the children and their families, calling the site unsanitary.
“We are in agreement that this place is not safe for families,” said Garcia. “But when they showed up with batons, shields and hard hats, they were indicators the migrants were being treated as if they were criminals as if they had committed a crime.”
Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero has said that only 100 unarmed police officers and National Guard troops were sent to keep order as city crews dismantled the campsite.
Caballero also stated the relocation had been planned for days and that migrants were told they were going to be moved.
Garcia insisted that was not the case.
“We started getting calls at four in the morning, people telling us they were being forced out,” she said. “They did it on a Sunday at 4 a.m. without any warning knowing there were going to be children in that space and dispatching hundreds of soldiers. And what’s worse, the Mexican Government had promised them this was not going to happen.”
Garcia stated that in spite of the unsafe conditions at the camp, the migrants were almost “better off” being there as they cling to hope for asylum in the United States is possible.
“The Biden administration is keeping doors closed to asylum-seekers, we don’t know when the doors will be open when asylum will be restored, so in that sense, yes, people were going to remain in this space until doors opened for them.”
Most of the migrants from the camp were taken to shelters scattered throughout Tijuana, something Garcia worries about.
“Shelters are at max capacity, so there is not one shelter these people can go to,” Garica said. “The shelters that have accepted a few families are charging them money and they are temporary shelters so after two weeks they are going to be back on the streets.”
Garcia added that her group, Border Angels, is part of an alliance that has evolved in support of the migrants who had been at the camp in an area known as El Chaparral.
It is called The Chaparral Humanitarian Alliance made up of APALA-SD (Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance-San Diego), AFSC (American Friends and Services Committee), Border Angels, Border Line Crisis Center, Psychologists Without Borders BC, and United US Sports Veterans Together.