TIJUANA, Baja California — Lea este artículo en español.
Maritza Noemi Machado Velasquez cooks lunch for her two sons outside over an open fire at a migrant shelter in the outskirts of Tijuana.
The family whose journey from Honduras was treacherous –– they were kidnapped for three months for ransom, she said –– is comfortable at the shelter, where they hope to wait until they can ask for asylum in the United States.
Machado Velasquez is one of about 1,200 migrants at Templo Embajadores de Jesús, one of Tijuana’s highest-capacity migrant shelters. Pastor Gustavo Banda Aceves converted his church into a shelter in 2016.
Banda Aceves and other Tijuanenses have opened up their spaces to house migrants on the way to the U.S. who might otherwise be on the streets while they wait, some for months or even years, for the U.S. to reopen its asylum process. The U.S. closed doors to asylum seekers in 2020 under the pandemic-era health policy known as Title 42.
As a result, shelters such as Banda Aceves’, intended to temporarily care for migrants, are now housing migrants long-term, a need some say they’re poorly equipped to meet with their limited resources, which include little support from government sources.
And while the U.S. spends millions of dollars on humanitarian aid in Mexico –– $60 million in fiscal year 2021 –– some shelter leaders say the support isn’t reaching them. Covering the basic needs at Templo Embajadores de Jesús remains a significant challenge, Banda Aceves said.
Meanwhile, migrants who have been waiting for months to years to enter the U.S continue waiting there, “con paciencia,” Machado Velasquez said, preparing to serve lunch for her boys.
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