TIJUANA-CIUDAD JUAREZ —
Organized crime has been attacking migrant shelters on the US-Mexico border for a few months through threats, extortion and assaults, which has put migrants and civil society organizations on alert.
This Tuesday it was announced that the shelter called Embajada Migrante, located in the tourist area of Tijuana beaches, just 50 meters from the border wall that flows into the sea, had to close due to these threats.
Hugo Castro, founder of the SOS Migrant Coalition, to which the shelter belongs, informed the media that, for at least four months, members of criminal groups have been harassing migrants and the coordinators of said space.
“The shelter has been subjected to threats, extortion attempts, criminals who present themselves as those who control the area even entered at night, and demanded $200 each from the migrants as a fee for letting them try to cross. the border,» he said.
The activist said that the criminals «perhaps assume that all migrants are going to cross the wall through that area at some point,» which, according to the activist, «is controlled by the polleros (people traffickers), in collusion with organized crime» and This created a risk for everyone.
What is worrying, for the activist, is that this situation not only happens with this vulnerable community, but that it occurs precisely in a tourist area where dozens of tourists usually arrive and gather daily.
«That is why we call on the authorities to respond to the requests for help from migrant houses and shelters, because it will be too serious that little by little they are taking away these spaces that should be considered sanctuaries for families that emigrate,» he said. .
As background, so far this year, shelters such as Ágape Misión Mundial, located in an area considered at risk, as well as Espacio Migrante, located one kilometer from the San Ysidro border port, had previously reported some type of extortion and attempted aggression by members of organized crime.
The manager of the Migrant Embassy shelter, Esperanza Lozano (i), and the founder of the SOS Migrant Coalition, Hugo Castro, participate in a press conference today, in the border area of Tijuana, Baja California (Mexico). EFE/ Joebeth Terriquez
Likewise, an attempted kidnapping was recorded in a migrant shelter located on the banks of the Rio Grande, in the state of Chihuahua.
Recently, hundreds of undocumented immigrants, mostly of Venezuelan origin, were in a camp with tents on the banks of the Rio Grande, a point known as «little Venezuela,» and weeks after they settled there, they were evicted by Mexican authorities and are now scattered in Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez, putting themselves at risk.
Rosalío Sosa, a member of the Tierra de Oro network of migrant shelters, told EFE that “they wanted to commit a kidnapping, some of their belongings were stolen and thank God it didn’t go too far. By this means we want to demand that the authorities be more vigilant, it is not fair that we do humanitarian work and they still rob migrants.”
He added that the action of the night comes from organized crime.
The violent act occurred in the early hours of this Tuesday. «There were three recent model vehicles, in each one came three men who said they would put us in different cars, in one for women, in another for children and in another for men,» a migrant told EFE who, for security reasons, asked remain anonymous.
He added that they filled his face with oil, they began to separate them in a row. However, the criminals left because they apparently realized that the authorities would arrive.