I recently moved to New York City and this month marks my second holiday away from San Diego. My parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico before I was born, but we constantly cross to Tijuana, since most of my family lives there.
Tijuana is my second home and a piece of my heart is always there. The recent news on the Honduran migrant caravan has hit me hard, and my 3,000-mile distance from my home only amplifies my emotion towards these events. It all feels like some dream, but the reality is that this is a serious situation for the migrant caravan and the people of Tijuana.
Approximately 6,000 migrants have arrived in Tijuana and are currently stationed near the border, living in tents and even sleeping out in the cold. Many arrived in mid-November, and the tension in Tijuana is only worsening as people are becoming restless.
I have spoken to family members back home and many tell me they don’t see this situation improving soon. The migrant caravan currently occupies a sports complex which was reshaped into a shelter, but with rains coming in, this shelter is drenched in mud and disease is spreading.
While the U.S. government is taking on cases for migrants petitioning for asylum, the process is slow, and Tijuana must deal with the overpopulated shelter in the meantime. The Mexican government has attempted to alleviate some of the issues by offering a one-year humanitarian visa for those who qualify, the idea being that they can find work while waiting for their petitions to be processed.
The truth of the matter is that Mexico does not have the resources to adequately help the displaced travelers. The U.S., which does have the resources, has a responsibility to help these migrants — yet the Trump administration has made it difficult for migrants to legally enter the country by changing immigration policy to make it harder for them to petition for asylum.
Here at The Opportunity Agenda we believe that problems are best solved when we work together, and the recent news about the migrant caravan is no exception. The people of the caravan are individuals and families with children who have left the only life they know to seek something better. They search for what we all want: the opportunity for an improved life.
We must honor our humanitarian responsibilities, process asylum claims according to current laws, and rethink our immigration policies to make it possible for those seeking opportunity to join our workforce and society. Having this opportunity is a human right that we must, as a country, defend.