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Thousands of Haitians and Africans arrive in Tijuana, Mexico, to seek asylum in the US

Galería de Fotos | 26 Fotos Peter Eversoll

Over the last few weeks migrants from Africa, Haiti and Pakistan have been arriving in droves to Tijuana, Mexico. This is the second large wave of people from these areas who are using Tijuana as a gateway to the United States in their quest to get political asylum. More than 5,000 have arrived over the last few months, most are from Haiti, but others are from Democratic Republic of Congo, the Gambia, and Ghana; there are also a few families from Pakistan. However, the true nationality of many is uncertain to immigration officials, as migrants are claiming to be from African nations in order to get around the Obama administration’s new stance on limiting Haitian asylum requests which puts those without visas on a fast-track deportation process.

Many of these migrants have traveled through South and Central America, taking as much as 6 months to make the journey to Tijuana, while others enter by airplane with visas. Some Haitians were previously living in Brazil, given asylum status after the 2010 earthquake that devastated the island nation. The problem, for both migrants and migrant outreach organizations, is that there is a wait for asylum interviews, often between 3 and 4 weeks (although, many Haitian migrants have reported that recently US Immigration and Customs Service has been granting them faster appointment dates.) Once their money for food and hotels run out, they must seek assistance from local organizations such as El Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava and La Casa del Migrante, where they line up every morning to get assistance, secure lodging for the night and consult with Mexican immigration officials about their cases.

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