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A waiting game for immigrants and frontier workers on 2 sides of the border wall: NPR



Border Patrol is guarding a section of the border region between the United States and Mexico, seen from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico.

Guillermo Arias for NPR


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The border patrol protects a section of the border region between Mexico and Mexico, seen from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico.

Guillermo Arias for NPR

For Tijuana, the Central American caravans that arrived there in November have become a humanitarian challenge. For Trump Administration, they are a national security threat and a strong and convenient symbol of why the United States needs stronger border security.

"We don't know who's in that group," says Rodney Scott, director of the San Diego Border Patrol Sector. "The big numbers indicate that there are prisoners in caravans."

During the weeks since the caravan arrived in early November, hundreds of immigrants have lost patience and illegally ran the border fence. Scott says his agents have arrested more than 2,500 of them in the country's borders between steel border barriers.

On a recent visit to Tijuana, the caravan migrants seem to be more deceitful than nefarious.

Migrants seeking an asylum appointment with the US Customs and Customs waiting for the El Chaparral port in Tijuana.

Guillermo Arias for NPR


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Migrants seeking an asylum contract with US Customs and Border Protection officers are waiting for the El Chaparral port in Tijuana.

Guillermo Arias for NPR

List

Their numbers have fallen dramatically from about 6,000 to less than 2,000 today. They stay in makeshift houses throughout the city and wait every week to hear their own number in a message made every morning in a small park near the US harbor.

"Today we begin with number 1.627. Please queue your place," says a man with a bullhorn.

Thus, Darling Adalid Mercado is the first in a ragged line of residents of caravans who will cross the border this morning and request asylum from US immigration agents. Every day, only forty to seventy people are allowed every day.

Darling Adalid Mercado, 19 (center), left his home in Ocotepeque, Honduras three months ago to flee townspeople who wanted to recruit him.

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Darling Adalid Mercado, 19 (middle), left his home in Ocotepeque in Honduras three months ago to flee city bulls who wanted to recruit him.

Guillermo Arias for NPR

Adalid Mercado is a clean-cut 19-year-old in a ball cap with a cross-field around the neck. He says he left his home in Ocotepeque, Honduras, three months ago to flee townspeople who wanted to recruit him. He is angry with volunteers who organized the caravan, as he says, gave them bad advice.

" Pueblo Sin Fronteras [Village Without Borders] is an organization that told us to join the caravan that everything would be easy," he says. "Then you're on the road, and it's really hard, really hard. They deceive you, they say we're going to the Mexico-US border, and we're throwing everyone together. But the truth is, you can't do it. is illegal. "

A woman walks near the temporary house, as ambassadors of Christ in Tijuana leader.

Guillermo Arias for NPR


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A woman walks near the temporary house run by Ambassadors of Christ in Tijuana.

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Adalid Mercado says that when he came to Tijuana, other activists shot him: "Come on, Darling, jump the fence!" But he realized he would be severely punished by the US authorities and it was better to wait for his number to come up.

When he is crossed, if he is not sent to a migrant detention center, Darling Adalid Mercado will be with brother in San Antonio, Texas, and find work.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras – a Mexico-based immigrant organization for solidarity – sent a reply to his Facebook page for new criticism of his actions. They strongly reject "criminalization and defamation of our work" accompanying the caravan. The group promises to continue to support and protect the human rights of Central American migrants in transit.

The caravan numbers have fallen dramatically from about 6,000 to less than 2,000 today.

Guillermo Arias for NPR


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Guillermo Arias for NPR

Caravan numbers have dropped dramatically from about 6,000 to less than 2,000 today.

Guillermo Arias for NPR

Waiting to cross

The waiting game in the frightened houses in Tijuana is lattice on everyone's nerves.

Blanca Irias and her family from Tegulcigalpa, Honduras cool their heels by a shelter run by an evangelical church called the Ambassadors of Christ, which is adjacent to a greasy creek popular with a family of braided pigs. She is a heavy woman with tired eyes. They stay in a camping tent set up in the church's sanctuary.

Every day, she, her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren discuss what their next step should be.

Blanca Irias (right) and her daughter, from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, are staying in a camping tent set up in the church sanctuary in Tijuana.

Guillermo Arias for NPR


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Blanca Irias (right) and her daughter, from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, are staying in a camping tent set up in the church shrine in Tijuana.

Guillermo Arias for NPR

"We're frustrated. We've been here a long time," says Irias with a sigh. "We are discussing the possibility of staying here in Tijuana because there is work and it pays well. There are days when we also wonder if we should jump the fence. We do not know what to do."

Humanitarian visas and a job

More and more Honduras who arrived in the caravan decided to stay in Tijuana. Mexico has issued more than 2,000 humanitarian visas, enabling them to work in this thriving Pacific coastal city. While the city's leadership was initially hostile to their arrival, many citizens have warmed them.

"We have seen these people around town, in barber shops, selling clothes, working in assembly plants, they are people who want to move on. There is no problem with them, here in Tijuana there is work for anyone willing to work, says Juan Carlos Rodriguez Marquez, a local lawyer who walked his dog along a beach park.

Santos Favian Gomez washes up a humanitarian group, World Central Kitchen, saying he fled gangs in Choluteca, Honduras.

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Santos Favian Gomez washes up a humanitarian group, World Central Kitchen. He says he fled gangs in Choluteca, Honduras.

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Santos Favian Gomez says he fled gangs in Choluteca, Honduras. He has taken a job washing for a humanitarian group, the World Central Kitchen, preparing hundreds of free meals for the migrants.

"I want to stay in Tijuana," he says, "because I hear you cross into the US they will throw you into jail. It's better to work here than to be a prisoner over there."

Favian Gomez , 41, says he was traveling alone here. He saves a little money to send home to his wife. He will try to find a house so that he can move out of the crowded house where he is staying. And he will make his home in Tijuana, at least temporarily.

"That's right here," he says, scrubbing beans from a pot, "and the people are fine."

He says any event he can work out in Tijuana is better than returning to Honduras.

World Central Kitchen prepares hundreds of free meals for the migrants in Tijuana.

Guillermo Arias for NPR


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World Central Kitchen prepares hundreds of free meals for migrants in Tijuana.

Guillermo Arias for NPR


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