TIJUANA (Border Report) — Baldez and his younger brother spent eight days in a Mexican jail, eating only tortillas and water along with 81 other men in the same cell.
It was part of a month-long journey that began when he crossed the Guatemala-Mexico border and into the city of Tapachula.
This week, the Haitian migrant found himself outside a federal facility in Tijuana, in search of asylum or a work visa, hundreds of miles away.
Baldez is one of the 200 Haitian migrants that Tijuana officials estimate are arriving in their city on a daily basis — about 6,000 every month.
Once a week, hundreds line up outside a federal facility looking for a way to remain in Tijuana legally.
“I’m here hoping to get my papers,” Baldez said.
He told Border Report he and his brother were jailed in Hermosillo, Sonora after immigration officers detained them for not having proper documents.
Baldez said he’s an accounting teacher back home.
“I want to help my mother, daughter and wife,” he said. “I want to go back to Haiti and help everybody.”
He also said if granted asylum and a work visa, he has no plans on crossing the border into the United States. Others said the same thing, but actually getting the coveted documents is another story.
“In the end, we’re going to try to help everyone,” said Efren Gonzalez, who is in charge of the processing center. “We know they all share the same emotions and goals to be able to stay.”
Gonzalez says it’s a daunting task considering so many Haitians are showing up in Tijuana. The center can reportedly only process about 250 people per week.
“We can’t interview and go through all the paperwork for everyone from one day to the next, it takes time,” Gonzalez said.
It wasn’t clear whether Baldez got inside to begin filling out the paperwork. Before Border Report departed the scene, he was still waiting in line.
“I just want to work. Hopefully, I can do some accounting, but I don’t care, I want to stay here,” he said.