‘Wait in Mexico’ revival generating confusion, unrest at overcrowded shelters in Tijuana

Border Report

TIJUANA (Border Report) — The Agape Shelter in Tijuana is home to just under 200 migrants from all over Central America and Mexico.

One of its residents is Roxana Ramirez who has lived here for about a year.

“I’ve been MPP since 2019,” Ramirez said in Spanish, referring to the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols program that forces asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for their immigration court hearings in Mexico. “I’m asking the United States to grant me asylum, I want to be reunited with my son who is already in the United States. … I want to be with him again.”

Roxana Ramirez is a migrant living at the Agape shelter in Tijuana. She says she has been part of the MPP program since 2019. (Jorge Nieto/Special for Border Repor)

Ramirez, who is from Honduras, told Border Report she is not sure what is going to happen to her case.

“Don’t wait till we start getting killed,” said Ramirez. “It’s dangerous for Mexicans in their own country, it’s worse for us, they need to start changing the laws now because we are in danger as Central Americans.”

The United States government has yet to issue specific guidelines as it rolls out the MPP program, unofficially known as “Remain in Mexico.”

“I hope this time around it’s not as controversial and there’s more structure,” said Pastor Albert Rivera, who runs the Agape Shelter. “I would like to see a faster process and there aren’t as many obstacles like there were during the Trump era.”

Rivera says the biggest problem will be space, or lack thereof, in shelters like his.

Pastor Albert Rivera operates the Agape shelter in Tijuana. (Jorge Nieto/Special for Border Report)

“We’re expecting hundreds of migrants to be sent back from the United States on a daily basis, but there’s no place to put them.”

According to Rivera, migrants who are sent back into cities such as Tijuana will be in constant danger and uncertainty.

“The new policy needs to provide security and tranquility to assure safety for all these displaced migrants,” said Rivera.

The pastor would also like to see a greater effort on the part of Mexico’s government to protect its citizens.

“A lot of the migrants here are from the states of Michoacan and Guerrero who are fleeing violence, if AMLO (Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador) could guarantee their safety down there, these people wouldn’t have to make the trip to cities like Tijuana, which is already saturated, and we would be able to help other migrants sent back because of MPP.”

The MPP program applies to citizens from Western Hemisphere countries except for Mexico.

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