TIJUANA (Border Report) — Baja California’s Health Secretary Alonso Pérez Rico is pleading with migrants to leave a campsite just on the south side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, which has become home to about 200 migrants including men, women and children.
They have no shower facilities or public bathrooms. The nearest restroom is located at a nearby business, but its owner is charging migrants 8 pesos (40 cents) to use it.
Officials have set up a temporary health unit to as a way to provide basic medical care, they have also been handing out facemasks and sanitizer.
But now, afraid of further spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, health officials are asking the migrants to pick up their belongings and leave.
“I’m appealing to them and all the organizations that are helping, to make it clear to all of them, that by being here, it doesn’t mean they’ll be allowed to cross the border, authorities from the United States have already said it’s not going to happen,” said Pérez Rico.
According to Pérez Rico, people who aren’t from this part of Mexico are more vulnerable to acquiring illnesses prevalent in the region that could lead to other health issues like a tuberculosis outbreak.
The health secretary also said that most migrants, who are from Central America, aren’t used to living outside in cold weather conditions that are typical for this time of the year in Tijuana, making them more susceptible to viruses such as COVID-19.
“We’ll have to send brigades of health care workers, and number two, with COVID it’s going to mean more attention focused here,” said Pérez Rico. “Now we have to prepare for rickettsiosis, tuberculosis, hypertension, and we have to figure out how we’re going to vaccinate all these people, or we’ll have another surge of the coronavirus.”
Migrants began gathering at the border since last Thursday, the day before the U.S. Government was to start allowing asylum seekers to cross the border in groups of 25, per day, beginning on Friday, February 19.
Access to the U.S. is supposed to be only for those who have asylum cases pending.
The White House and Department of Homeland Security are urging those waiting under the Migrant Protection Protocols program in Mexico, to check their status at www.conecta.acnur.org. And if their case is still active, asylum seekers will be able to set a time and date to cross the border.