TIJUANA (Border Report) — A representative from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico told migrant advocates and those who operate shelters in Tijuana that the Migrant Protocols Program will ramp up over the next few weeks.
The program, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” forces migrants who seek asylum in the United States to wait out their cases south of the border, a process that often takes months or even years.
Patrick Murphy, who operates the House for Migrants shelter in Tijuana, said they were told that no more than 30 people per day would be sent back to border cities such as Tijuana.
“They are going to send 30 people per day maximum,” he said. “They said everyone would have been tested for COVID-19 before being sent to shelters.”
Murphy did state his shelter has yet to receive anyone associated with the MPP program and that they are trying to set aside space for these migrants.
“If we get enough advance notice we’ll take them in, but we don’t have any beds reserved for MPP people, it’s first come first served,” he said.
As of now, all shelters in Tijuana are said to be operating at capacity as more and more migrants continue to arrive especially those from Haiti and people from central Mexico fleeing violence.
In the past, Murphy’s facility was used to house adults who were deported or expelled from the United States, but he says recently his shelter has turned into a place for migrant families.
“It used to be 90 percent of deported migrants had no children with them, they weren’t families, but as the pandemic unfolded, we got away from that because the United States was not testing people being sent back so we decided not to accept them,” Murphy said.
He also said they still can’t accept too many people because of safe distancing protocols and have maxed out at 120 migrants, including 40 children.
“We allow for an additional 20 people at night, but they have to clear out by 9 a.m. the next day,” he said.
Murphy said things will only get worse if the ongoing wave of Haitian arrivals continues in Tijuana coupled with MPP migrants being sent back from the U.S.
“Tijuana is going to be in a difficult position with this constant migration and we haven’t seen much of a response from our government, there’s no help, and they won’t talk to us or take our input,” he said.