The US/MX border at Tijuana is practically closed for migrants and refugees. The local political climate has turned aggressively against migrants from the last Central American caravans. Trump’s influence on the Mexican federal government is strongly felt. President Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-refugee policies like the so-called ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy are keeping many migrants and refugees trapped in Tijuana for months at a time, unable to cross into the US. The administration of center-left Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO as he’s more commonly known) of the Morena Party, has done a 180 degree turn on his previous pro-migrant policies and electorally successful campaign rhetoric. After only two weeks of offering humanitarian visas to migrants, which allowed them to work for a year anywhere in Mexico, the policy abruptly was terminated. Simultaneously, the federal government is also waging a violent, military crackdown against migrants and refugees. Migrants and refugees currently traveling to Tijuana in hopes of reaching the United States are facing increasing repression from Mexican authorities.
Tijuana, as the Mexican border town across from San Diego, is heavily influenced by the hostile words of President Trump and the current Mayor (Municipal President) dubbed ‘Tijuana Trump,’ Juan Manuel Gastélum of the PRI party.* Mayor Gastélum has been seen on social media wearing a red, ‘Make Tijuana Great Again,’ hat. Phrases like ‘Mexico first’ and ‘No illegals’ are pervasive but primarily championed by the wealthy.** Over the last four months, right wing protesters have attempted to march to migrant shelters housing thousands of people, including women and children. In a more recent showdown, a small group of Tijuanenses tried to block migrants from entering the city.
As far south as Chiapas and Tapachula all the way to Tijuana there has been increased militarization and violence against the migrant caravans. Because the caravans have been raided multiple times and have been targeted by Mexican police as well as Mexican citizens against the migrants, they have opted out of using more public methods of migrating. Many have started using the train, “La Bestia,” that travels from Chiapas to Veracruz in order to reach Tijuana. Due to Trump’s regimes pressure on Mexico to detain the caravans from reaching the US/MX border, they have been cutting off all types of support that the earlier caravans had such as allowing truck drivers to give people rides and shutting down shelters. Mexican officials have also begun fining and punishing people who have been supporting the migrants over the last couple months. Another tactic being used is holding migrants in Southern Mexico cities in order to wear them out by promising them Mexican visas and as a result break up large numbers of people from traveling together without actually granting them any documentation.
Despite the increasing pushback from Mexico against the caravans, the resilience and persistence of the exodus remains. In one of the most dangerous cities in the world, migrant and refugee resistance is not just possible; it is thriving. The mutiny and escape of 1,300 migrants from a detention center in Tapachula, southern Mexico, after threatening to set fire to the facility to protest overcrowding, is proof of the radical resilience that is alive and well.***
Click here to watch RT Espanol’s live footage of MX government officials ripping children out of their mother’s hands in order to tear apart the caravans and detains asylum seeking children.