While the Trump administration makes headlines for its immigration policy once again this week—this time for a proposal to limit green card recipients based on use of government benefits—another controversy at the border continues to unfold: Donald Trump’s immigration policies are spurring further instability at the United States-Mexico border, analysts say, as an apparent surge in migrants headed to and from the U.S. weighs heavily on already overwrought public infrastructure in places like Tijuana.
“U.S. immigration policy is making Mexico less safe—the border and the migration routes in particular,” says Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a policy professor at George Mason University who has recently traveled to Tijuana and other U.S.-Mexico border towns to conduct research on how the Trump administration’s policies are affecting the situation there. She says that influxes of vulnerable people to places struggling with organized crime has threatened both the migrants’ lives and regional stability.
Flanked by many migrants from Central America and as far afoot as Africa, there is a sizable community of about 4,000 Haitian newcomers living in Tijuana and environs, according to Enrique Morones, the founding director of Border Angels, an immigrant advocacy group. And more are coming, he says. The vast majority arrived there after a long, treacherous journey through South America, around the time of Trump’s election, hoping to apply for asylum ahead of his promises to bar immigrants of all stripes from entering the country. Soon after Trump took office, though, word spread among the migrants that U.S. immigration officials were repatriating Haitians who had attempted to enter the country legally. Many chose to remain in Tijuana, and despite their relatively welcoming treatment by locals, struggle with unemployment and housing in what has become a makeshift home.
Still, it appears that more Haitians are heading for the border town. About 60 Haitians recently arrived at one Tijuana shelter, and more are expected, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday. Pacific Standard traveled in early 2017 to the shelter where the newcomers now stay—the Templo Embajadores de Jesús, located at the foot of a canyon. Some among the hundreds of migrants there explained that the stakes are high, not just for the migrants but countless others back in Haiti. Entire communities pool money in the hopes that a migrant will make to the U.S. and work to send home life-sustaining remittances. On Saturday, a deadly 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, which is continuously struggling to rebuild amid a seemingly endless onslaught of natural and manmade disaster.
BY MASSOUD HAYOUN for PACIFIC STANDARD
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