TIJUANA (Border Report) — Alfredo Escobar has been in Tijuana for more than a year, staying mostly at the Agape Shelter for migrants.
When word got out about volunteers helping expand the shelter, he raised his hand and offered his construction experience.
Since then, Escobar and others with similar construction backgrounds have been working on the project managed by Pastor Albert Rivera.
“We’re starting to lay down the foundation, the migrants themselves are doing the work,” Rivera said. “We still need to level some of the ground with heavy machinery, but the bulk of the work will be provided by our migrants.”
Rivera told Border Report his facility now has capacity for about 600 people, with the expansion, he hopes to have room for up 1,500.
“We want to build a second story, maybe even a third so we can accommodate as many migrants as we can,” he said. “We know more migrants are coming and with MPP deportations, we’re going to get even more people.”
Workers like Escobar say the project makes them feel productive and knowing their labor will help other migrants is a big incentive to do the work.
“I’m supporting all the people who are coming to Tijuana, those who are on the road already, they will need help,” Escobar said in Spanish. “Often when they come here, there’s no room for them, maybe this will help them in the future.”
The land for the expansion has been donated by the state of Baja California, according to Rivera.
“Most of the materials are also coming from the state, it has been very cooperative, but it’s something we’ve been talking about for 10 years, I’m glad it’s finally coming together,” Rivera said.
Rivera said the migration into Tijuana has slowed down when compared to last year, but he says the need for shelter is still critical as no one has room to house migrants who are still arriving in the city on a daily basis.
“Now most of our migrants are from Mexico, the states of Michoacan and Guerrero, there are some from Central America and Haiti, but it’s mostly Mexico now,” he said
Rivera hopes to finish the first part of his expansion project by the end of the year.