SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Hundreds of Central American migrants are settling into a new shelter further from the border. Officials say they were moved from a sports complex in Tijuana that was shut down because of sanitation issues.
The clean-up at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex continued Sunday after Mexican health officials shut down the makeshift camp.
Conditions deteriorated earlier in the week after heavy rainfall added to the already unsanitary conditions.
The government provided buses to shuttle migrants to a new, larger shelter located about 7 miles south of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
Officials say the location, El Barretal, is better equipped to handle the influx of thousands of Central Americans.
While some put up the Honduran flag, Hector Torres put the U.S. flag on his tent.
He's seeking asylum after he says he was beaten by gang members in his home country.
“I feel afflicted because I can't enter and at the same time, I feel happiness because I am so close,” Torres said via a translator.
Mexico swore in Andrés Manuel López Obrador as its new president Saturday.
He promised significant social reforms.
His new director of domestic affairs told Mexico's national "Milenio" newspaper they're working to classify migrants into three categories:
those who still want to seek asylum in the U.S.
those who want to stay in Mexico
those who want to return home
Volunteers are providing legal aid to migrants to want asylum.
But director David Leon is also trying to set reasonable expectations, telling “Milenio”:
We can depressurize this situation in a short time, but it is expected that this could take between 7 to 12 months to normalize the situation.
The paper estimates nearly 2,000 caravaners requested to return home.
Still many more migrants like Torres remain undeterred.
“It's all worth it, because the truth is that I can't return to my country,” Torres said via a translator.