TIJUANA (Border Report) — Every morning before sunrise, about 200 migrants arrive at the south side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry for their turn to interview and formally request asylum in the U.S.
The asylum-seekers all have appointments that have been arranged via the Department of Homeland Security’s CBP One mobile app.
But some of the migrants tell Border Report they are noticing many in line are coming from the Reynosa, Mexico-McAllen, Texas region and not from Tijuana.
They wonder why the others, who have not been in Tijuana, appear to be getting priority for access to the U.S.
“I tried, tried and tried,” said Juan, one of the migrants in line.
He stated he’d been in a Tijuana shelter for months and had been trying to get an appointment with the app since the program was announced, but without any luck.
Others shared similar stories.
One man said his family of 12 had issues as well, with some being able to get interviews while others can’t.
“It appears to me this is a very complicated app,” said Soraya Vazquez, director of Al Otro Lado, which provides legal services and support for migrants and refugees.
She said they, too, have encountered many issues as they’ve tried to help asylum-seekers sign up on the app.
“We found it very confusing as we were trying to create a video to show migrants how to navigate the process,” said Vazquez. “There are problems trying to authenticate who you are, the Spanish version is flawed with many words in English, picking a port of entry for an interview is confusing, and many migrants don’t have smartphones to set up profiles and complete applications.”
Migrants also expressed concern over counterparts from Ukraine and Russia “getting priority over migrants from Latin America and people of color.”
We reached out to the Department of Homeland Security about these issues, but our questions have yet to be answered.