TIJUANA, Baja California — Hundreds of migrants were in Tijuana as of Wednesday hoping to claim asylum in the United States. A makeshift camp was formed near the PedWest crossing and volunteers and nonprofits have scrambled to feed and care for the increasing numbers.
“We also go out to different migrant shelters. A lot of our work is with asylum seekers, migrants and anyone who is by the border and needs attention. We won’t turn anyone away,” said Mikaela Mizuno with Refugee Health Alliance.
The Biden Administration has encouraged migrants not to come to the United States until more asylum infrastructure is put in place. However, thousands have continued to arrive at the border.
Some migrants held a rally to express optimism and call on the U.S. to hear their claims.
Earlier, Customs and Border Protection held a “readiness exercise,” where officers practiced responding to events at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
“Most of us here come for persecution. We come because we have been tortured,” said a Honduran woman at a migrant event. “We're here to send a message to the U.S. authorities that we don't want anything forcibly. We will follow your laws and orders. What we want and are waiting for is a clear answer.”
The U.S. is on pace to apprehend the most people along the southwest border in the last 20 years. The Secretary of Homeland Security said it is still turning back adults and families who are caught. However, it is detaining unaccompanied minors.
CBS News reported about 13,000 children are in U.S. custody awaiting hearings.
Most of the surge is happening in Texas, but San Diego is still seeing an increase in apprehensions.
The number of single adults caught in the San Diego Sector increased 138% over this time last year. Although that is less than the 188% rise nationwide.
Apprehensions of unaccompanied minors in San Diego rose 64% compared to this time last year, less than the 92% national average and far less than Big Bend, Tex., which reported a nearly three-fold increase.
“The urgency is to take care of the people who are already here. I insist they should not be evicted, they should not be returned, because this is a migration that is coming to save their lives,” said Jose Luis Perez Canchola with the Mexican Academy of Human Rights. “The interviews we've done are with families who have already had a dad, son, brother killed by the drug traffickers.”
WATCH: Asylum seekers finally allowed to cross into U.S. from Mexico to await court hearings