SAN DIEGO — In less than a week, the number of asylum seekers waiting to cross the border, without an interview appointment, has gone from a handful of migrants earlier this week to more than 200, according to Mexican immigration officials in Tijuana.
Now there’s said to be people from Russia, Central America, Venezuela, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Asia, Mexico and other places around the world.
Estimates from the Migrant Affairs Office in Tijuana are an even higher. It says there are 124 men, 56 women — four whom are pregnant — and 76 minors camping out at the border crossing.
Some of the migrants were reportedly staying in shelters but have left these facilities to come to the port of entry.
Many migrants, like César Segura, who is from Venezuela, have grown impatient while waiting for an appointment — something the Department of Homeland Security has been pushing asylum seekers to do.
“I’ve tried many times without any luck to get an appointment,” said Segura.
Since the end of Title 42, DHS has been asking migrants to secure appointments via the CBP One online application.
It just announced 1,200 appointments are now available on a daily basis, up from 1,000 when Title 42 ended on May 11.
But in accordance to the DHS policy, migrants who can’t get online appointments due to “language barriers, illiteracy and technical issues” can present themselves at a port of entry and ask for an interview.
This is the reason many asylum seekers have begun showing up at the border crossing.
Segura got here on Monday.
He said when he arrived at the port of entry, there were fewer than 50 fellow migrants.
“Officers have said they are not allowing anyone to come in although I’m calculating about 70 people have gotten in most of them families with children,” said Segura.
The Migrant Affairs Office in Tijuana and shelters south of the border continue to impress on the migrants the need to remain in a shelter while waiting to secure an appointment.
They are telling the migrants “showing up at the border and camping out doesn’t guarantee access.”
“We are urging migrants to being their asylum process through the CBO One app,” said Adriana Espinosa, Under Secretary of Baja California’s Migrant Affairs. “We are finding some resistance from them, their goal is to find a way to get into the United States.”
Espinosa said they have already returned five families to shelters who had been waiting in line for days at the border, she added more families will be returned in the coming days.
Two years ago, more than 1,000 migrants camped out just south of the border crossing hoping to be allowed into the U.S., but after a year, the city of Tijuana was forced to clear everyone from the camp due to sanitary, safety and overcrowding concerns.
So far, the city of Tijuana has said it will not remove anyone from the area as long as they don’t block the flow of daily commuters across the border.