Inside Tijuana's Largest Migrant Shelter

  A family sets up their makeshift home outside of the Unidad Deportiva Benito Juarez shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on November 16, 2018.(Jayrol San Jose/ Corsair Contributing Photographer)

A family sets up their makeshift home outside of the Unidad Deportiva Benito Juarez shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on November 16, 2018.(Jayrol San Jose/ Corsair Contributing Photographer)

Over a thousand Central American migrants have made their way to Tijuana, Mexico after an on-foot journey from Honduras. A caravan of over two thousand people left Honduras on October 13 to flee poverty and violence, according to CBS News. Their plan was to travel through Guatemala and Mexico to eventually reach the United States to seek asylum. The main portion of the caravan has not reached the US border yet, but thousands have already arrived.

The city of Tijuana, which is near the border of the United States has set up makeshift shelters in various parts of the city that provide migrants food and clothing, which are largely obtained through donations. The majority of them are located in the Benito Juarez Sport Complex makeshift shelter, the largest in Tijuana, right along the US-Mexican border in a neighborhood called Zona Norte. All access to the shelter requires checking in with officials in charge of the government ran and organized facility.

The shelter is crowded, with little room to walk. The facility is largely outdoors with sleeping pads and tents filling the grounds. Some of the adults occupied their time by sitting in circles and playing cards, while many of the children spent their time in the playground.

Three young boys sat on two of the swings in the playground as they talked and joked amongst themselves. The oldest named Hariel is 14 and the other two unnamed children are six years old. Hariel wore a navy blue zipped up sweater, while one of the six year olds wore a green t-shirt and the other wore a blue shirt. The Corsair spoke to them through a translator and found out that all three of the boys are from Honduras.

“It’s been four days,” said Hariel, when asked when they arrived. It took the boys 31 days to get to Tijuana from Honduras. When asked how their life was in Honduras, Hariel looked down without saying a word. The six-year-old wearing the green shirt then replied “mal,” meaning bad. Hariel responded in the same way when asked why they had left Honduras.

The facility’s indoor gym area was filled with people, mainly consisting of mothers and very young children. Saere Buso was laying on a sleeping mat tending to her young daughter. She left Honduras on October 13 with her two-year-old daughter and five year old son. They had arrived to Tijuana two days prior, on November 17.

The Corsair spoke to the mother through a translator and first asked why they had left Honduras. “For many reasons, but the main reason is my daughter. She has a disease. She’s developing a cough or phlegm,” said Buso. “It’s affecting her brain and it’s reached her heart now. Her right eye, she’s losing it.” The mother said she sought medical help for her daughter through the Honduran government, but received no response. Her and a few friends took it upon themselves to ask for donations, but needed to pay off a gang to gain access to certain streets where she could ask people for money. Her daughter has had one surgery, but now needs another. The mother’s plan is now to give themselves up to immigration to seek asylum in the US.

The future for many of the migrants as they approach the US border in greater number remains unclear.