TIJUANA (Border Report) — Haitian migrants began arriving in Tijuana five years ago, and they were welcomed for the most part.
The majority planned to settle in for a life in Mexico. Many got job permits and permission to stay south of the border, even creating a neighborhood in Tijuana known as Little Haiti.
But as a similar migration pattern emerges — migrants from Haiti arriving in droves at the U.S.-Mexico border — they’re finding crowded shelters and no welcome mat.
“Spaces are occupied by people from other nationalities,” said Gustavo Banda, who runs the Albergue Embajadores De Jesus shelter in Tijuana.
“We can’t shelter people from Haiti,” Banda said in Spanish. “All these hundreds of migrants that we can’t fit in here are out in the streets and maybe at other shelters,”
City officials estimate 300 Haitians arrived in Tijuana just last week, with more said to be on their way.
“I came in a caravan,” said Falon, a woman from Haiti who recently arrived in Tijuana. “It took us 18 days to get here from Tapachula,” a city in the Mexican state of Chiapas bordering Guatemala.
Others in that same caravan reportedly went toward the Arizona-Mexico border intent on crossing into the U.S.
Falon decided on Tijuana.
“I went to two other shelters before I found space here,” she said.
According to Banda, he is turning people away on a daily basis.
“I have all these bags filled with belongings of migrants who leave them here while they head out during the day,” he said. “At night it’s even more packed with stuff, we can’t fit anyone else in here.”
One migrant from Haiti staying at the shelter is Jimmy, who held his 8-month-old daughter in his arms as he spoke with Border Report.
“Some of us who have come to this shelter heard about it from others who have stayed here including my brother,” he said.
Both he and Falon said as of now they have no plans to cross into the U.S. and that for the time being, they are considering staying in Tijuana for good.