A 24-year-old Honduran named Jennifer Molina fears that she will be killed upon her return home but also faces the uncertain prospect of entering the United States, which closed its border to asylum-seekers after chaos ensued in the caravan campsite in Tijuana.TIJUANA (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 28th November, 2018) A 24-year-old Honduran named Jennifer Molina fears that she will be killed upon her return home but also faces the uncertain prospect of entering the United States, which closed its border to asylum-seekers after chaos ensued in the caravan campsite in Tijuana.
"We came here because of threats [in Honduras], bad kinds of threats," Molina told Sputnik as she held her crying six-month old baby. "We can't return because upon returning we'll die, so we'll stay here, look for work here. There's no other way to pull ahead."
Molina is one of 5,600 migrants in Tijuana who have fled Central American countries in order to seek asylum the United States. President Donald Trump's administration has deployed several thousand troops along the US southern border to support the Department of Homeland Security as it works to prevent the caravan from crossing the border.
"We're not safe because there's people who have told me a lot of people have come to offer a way into the United States, ways that are not right," Molina said. "There's a lot of danger here as well."
Molina, who arrived in Tijuana two weeks ago, said she has been waiting for US immigration officials to begin accepting asylum applications.
She highlighted that the trip was especially difficult because she was traveling with three children: a five-year-old, a three-year-old and a baby.
When asked if there are criminals in the caravan, Molina quietly responded, "Yes."
MIGRANT CARAVAN PRESENTS UNSAFE, AGRESSIVE ENVIRONMENT
Hugo Martinez, 39, of Honduras, who also arrived in Tijuana in hope of finding asylum in the United States, told Sputnik that the migrant caravan was filled with all kinds of people, including drug addicts and alcoholics.
"Honestly, in the caravan you have all kinds of people," Martinez said. "There's drug addicts, drunks, everything. These people don't think."
He went on to say that migrants should not behave like they do in their home countries and should respect the laws of other nations.
"We're not in our own homes where we can do what we want. We have to follow laws, statutes by other governments," Martinez said. "[Some migrants] think [the United States are] just going to open the doors for us but with that kind of attitude we aren't going anywhere. If I go to another country and cause chaos, they're going to arrest me, ask where I'm from and send me back to my country."
"I don't consider myself a bad person," Martinez said. "I come with the mission to get to work, nothing else. If I can help someone else who really needs it more, then we have to do what we can to help."
SUNDAY CLASH BETWEEN CARAVAN, US OFFICIALS HURTS PROSPECT OF ENTERING US
"Yes, it had an impact," Molina said when asked if Sunday's events has had an impact on their chances of getting into the United States. "More than anything that was the reason they closed the bridge. US immigration had said those who cross the bridge would get an opportunity [to seek asylum], but not anymore. It's closed. It's more difficult, I don't think it's possible anymore."
On Sunday, a group of around 500 migrants attempted to storm the US border from the Mexican city of Tijuana. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said that several asylum-seekers had thrown projectiles, which prompted US authorities to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
The chief patrol agent for the CBP San Diego region, Rodney Scott, said on Monday that CBP agents arrested 42 people, mostly young males, on Sunday for illegally crossing the US-Mexico border. He added that a group breached sections of the border wall made of scrap metal and also assaulted some of the CBP agents.
Martinez criticized migrants who took their children to the front lines of Sunday's incident in an attempt to get sympathy from the border guards, instead of trying to establish dialogue with US authorities.
"A lot of people think that because they're bringing children and putting them in the front that [border guards] aren't going to do anything," Martinez said. "It's not like that. [These migrants] want to force their way into everything. We want a dialogue, sit down somewhere to talk. That's what it's about, to do things the right way, not aggressively."
US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel said in a statement on Monday that the deployment of tear gas on unarmed asylum-seekers is the latest in a long line of human rights abuses from the Trump administration, "which continues to erode America's moral standing in the world."
"We are looking to get a house, get papers [documents] because I don't think with what happened Sunday they're going to say 'Yes, come on in and apply,'" Martinez said. "I don't believe it. After seeing what happened Sunday, it was hard. [Border guards] threw bombs [tear gas] at the children."
He noted that more migrants are on their way on buses, but did not have a specific number.
HOPE DWINDLES AS DAYS PASS BY WITH NO OPPORTUNITY TO APPLY FOR ASYLUM IN US
Patience is running low for migrants waiting to enter the United States to apply for asylum as no solution is in sight, Martinez said.
"Not seeing a solution, you can start to get impatient," Martinez said. "In Honduras, there's [my] family waiting, remember, Christmas is coming. We're used to having dinner with our families, being part of our family, but we're not going to be able to be a part of the family. We're waiting to see if maybe we can send some money to them to eat."
Moreover, Martinez pointed out the bad condition of the Honduran economy.
Santo Hernandez, 35, of Honduras, also emphasized the poverty in his home country.
"Some come because of insecurity, there's no employment, that's why one tends to leave the country," Hernandez told Sputnik.
"If there's no opportunity [to go to the United States] then we'll have to look for work here in Mexico and stay here temporarily until there's an opportunity to get to the other side," Hernandez said.
"I don't know whether to decide to go back to Honduras or stay here to wait and see how things get here," Esmeralda said as she looked toward the border wall located about 100 yards away. "I already made a big sacrifice walking from there to here and we're so close. We're at the front door. Returning to Honduras would just make it a bigger sacrifice to return again to where we are now."
CONDITIONS ON THE GROUND AT TIJUANA MIGRANT SHELTER
All the caravan migrants at the Albergue Benito Juarez camp looked extremely exhausted. The conditions in and around the shelter did not seem sanitary. A strong odor came from the area with the portable restrooms inside the migrant camp.
Media was not allowed inside the camp.
There may have been hundreds of tents cramped up in the camp, which appeared to be an outdoor facility with lots of open space. Several migrants, who were unable to fit inside the camp, had put up tents outside the front walls on the sidewalk.
The shelter was located on the intersection of 5 De Mayo Street and Sanchez Ayala Street.
There were no immediate details available to the media regarding the health conditions of most migrants in the caravan, however, many migrants and volunteers wore masks over their mouths. You can often hear migrants coughing and appearing weak. One female migrant was receiving a shot while another young girl was being treated for lice.
Many migrants were lined up to use telephones provided on site in order to communicate with their families or anyone else. Other migrants were gathered around stations by human rights groups such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
"Water, one always needs it, but there isn't enough," Hernandez said.
However, Esmeralda said her experience at the camp has been fine.
There's plenty of mobile medical clinics in the area to help treat the migrants, even a dentist. There was also one medical group with a long table stacked with medicine.
There was a heavy security presence around the perimeter of the shelter facility but not so much in the immediate area of the place. Federal police officers patrolled the surrounding neighborhood including some Mexican military personnel with assault rifles. There were over 30 federal police officers in full riot gear about a block from the entrance of the shelter. Helicopters from the US military and Department of Homeland Security constantly flew over head near the border, which was just a stone's throw away from the shelter in Tijuana.