EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Locals have built a wall that blocks access to a migrant shelter in Mexico.
A cinder-block wall, which appeared seemingly overnight, is preventing migrants from accessing the Albergue La Sagrada Familia, or Holy Family Shelter in Apizaco, in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala.
The shelter is sandwiched between Cristo Rey Catholic Church and railroad tracks where many migrants arrive on trains. The new wall blocks access to a side street that leads to the shelter.
In a statement on Facebook, the shelter shared photos of the wall and warned visitors and donors about the barrier blocking foot traffic and to call should the have any questions.
Albergue La Sagrada Familia is part of a network of Episcopal shelters that fall under the church’s commission for the pastoral care for migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, deportees and displaced persons.
In a statement, the commission denounced the erection of the wall as unfortunate and discriminatory.
The shelter “is a place in charge of embracing and protecting migrants who find themselves in vulnerable situations,” Juarez Bishop J. Guadalupe Torres Campos wrote on behalf of the commission. “Yesterday, an obstacle was added to the work carried out by the shelter when residents in the neighborhood decided to build a wall to prevent the access of migrants to the shelter.”
Torres said the commission is concerned with what it calls a discriminatory action that fails to recognize the needs of migrants for whom the shelter might be the only source of refuge.
“We stand in solidarity with Albergue La Sagrada Familia … and ask the community of Tlaxcala in this most unfortunate moment to be empathetic with the situation and unite to protect the interests of the shelter, which represents the kind and generous heart of this community,” he wrote.
The new wall went up just days after local and federal authorities detained 34 migrants from various African and Central American countries.
According to the El Sol de Tlaxcala newspaper, an anonymous tip alerted authorities, including railroad police, to a large group of possible migrants attempting to board a bus.
The newspaper reported that troops surrounded the perimeter before agents with Mexico’s National Institute of Migration were called to assist and took into custody people from Angola, Mali, the Congo, Cameroon, Senegal and Burkina Faso, as well as people from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Ecuador.
Elias Davila Espinoza, the director of Albergue La Sagrada Familia, recently spoke on the arrests, which happened about 2.3 miles from the shelter.
“When a migrant comes to a community, they bring the richness of their culture,” he said. “They also generate wealth for the community they arrive in and for the community they had to leave because of lack of work. This year, in Mexico, we have received much in remittances ourselves.”
In his statement, Torres said that in 2011, Albergue La Sagrada Familia served 11,625 migrants, including pregnant women, children and people with disabilities.
Apizaco is located about 83 miles east of Mexico City.
Border Report correspondent Julian Resendiz contributed to this story.