Asylum Seekers Displaced from Shelters by Heavy Rains

Central American migrants, mostly from Honduras, board a bus that will evacuate them from the flooded Benito Juarez Sports Complex in the Zone Norte neighborhood to the new shelter situated at El Barretal in the Desarrollo Urbanoejido Matamoros neighborhood on Saturday, December 1, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. The rain hitting this area in the last few days has turned the shelter into an unlivable muddy space raising health concerns resulting in the need to quickly find a sanitary new space for the migrants. There are still an estimated 300 or more migrants who have remained camped out on Avenida 5 de Mayo, in front of the sport complex, due to concerns that the new location is too far removed from where they are applying for asylum. Additionally, there is a concern about whether they will be allowed to leave the shelter freely. Photo By: Jose Lopez / Corsair Contributor

Central American migrants, mostly from Honduras, board a bus that will evacuate them from the flooded Benito Juarez Sports Complex in the Zone Norte neighborhood to the new shelter situated at El Barretal in the Desarrollo Urbanoejido Matamoros neighborhood on Saturday, December 1, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. The rain hitting this area in the last few days has turned the shelter into an unlivable muddy space raising health concerns resulting in the need to quickly find a sanitary new space for the migrants. There are still an estimated 300 or more migrants who have remained camped out on Avenida 5 de Mayo, in front of the sport complex, due to concerns that the new location is too far removed from where they are applying for asylum. Additionally, there is a concern about whether they will be allowed to leave the shelter freely. Photo By: Jose Lopez / Corsair Contributor


Over five thousand migrants were sheltered at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex in the Zona Norte neighborhood of Tijuana, Mexico, until rain left the facility flooded. Less than a week later, the majority of the migrants were moved to a new shelter ten miles southeast of the previous one, yet some remain outside of Benito Juarez.

Dozens of migrants remain camped outside of the Benito Juárez Sports Complex, despite the government-owned and run facility shutting down on Sunday, December 2. Some decided not to move to the new shelter because of how far it is from the port of entry, where applications to seek asylum in the United States are taken.

Jorge Montoya, 43, who was sheltered at Benito Juarez, isn’t sure if he will be going to the new shelter because he is afraid of missing his asylum case number. “They’re not handling things right... the Mexican government here,” said Montoya. According to a Mexican State Police officer, all people that remained sheltered outside of Benito Juarez will be forced to move from the area on Friday, December 7.

Those who chose to move to the new shelter packed up their belongings as buses lined up in front of Benito Juarez to take them to the new shelter, formerly known as El Barretal in Tijuana, Mexico.

Tijuana’s largest migrant shelter is located in the Mariano Matamoros neighborhood in Tijuana, and was once home to a nightclub. The facility is mainly outdoors, with concrete floors, and also has an indoor area where families with young children are being sheltered.

As migrants filled the new shelter, cars full of donations also entered the shelter. People in line to receive food, clothes, blankets, and other items filled the concrete grounds. The general coordinator of the El Barretal facility is Mario Medina De La Torre, a social worker with 25 years of experience working with non-governmental organizations. The Corsair spoke to him in Spanish and translated the interview. When asked what the biggest differences are between Benito Juarez and El Barretal, De La Torre said, “Space, is one. It has a roof, two. Sanitary bathrooms and showers, even though we’re fixing some of them right now.” He also stated that the new facility has a 24 hour hospital and a permanent presence of lawyers from the United States.

Some people are enjoying the new shelter more than the old one, such as eleven year old Herman Reyes. He was riding around on his scooter outside of his tent that his mother had just set up. The Corsair spoke to the boy in Spanish and translated the interview. When asked why he liked this shelter more, Herman said, “because there’s more space here than [at Benito Juarez].”

Janet Reyes, the mother of Herman, found the old shelter to be better.  “Well, there was better because it had bathrooms… and here, there’s a lot of sun… it’s different,” said Reyes.

Thousands of people in the El Barretal shelter await their next step in their journey to seek asylum.



A young boy waits for his bus to leave a migrant shelter hosted at Benito Juarez Sports Complex and head towards El Barretal migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico on December 1, 2018. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton / Corsair Contributor

A young boy waits for his bus to leave a migrant shelter hosted at Benito Juarez Sports Complex and head towards El Barretal migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico on December 1, 2018. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton / Corsair Contributor

A young male part of the migrant caravan finishes brushing his teeth, washing clothes and bathing in a muddy courtyard at the El Barretal nightclub turned shelter in, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. December 1st, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

A young male part of the migrant caravan finishes brushing his teeth, washing clothes and bathing in a muddy courtyard at the El Barretal nightclub turned shelter in, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. December 1st, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

Displaced Hondurans rebuild their tents and settle in at Barretal in the Desarollo Urbanojito Matoros district of Tijuana, Mexico on Dec 1, 2018. Asylum seekers previously housed at Benito Juarez have been moved on November 30, 2018 due to flooding from rainfall. The new camp location, Barretal, is a former concert venue that has been repurposed into an impromptu shelter. Photo By: Zin Chiang / Corsair Contributor

Displaced Hondurans rebuild their tents and settle in at Barretal in the Desarollo Urbanojito Matoros district of Tijuana, Mexico on Dec 1, 2018. Asylum seekers previously housed at Benito Juarez have been moved on November 30, 2018 due to flooding from rainfall. The new camp location, Barretal, is a former concert venue that has been repurposed into an impromptu shelter. Photo By: Zin Chiang / Corsair Contributor

Central American migrant men eat dinner in front of the El Barretal shelter on Saturday, December 1, 2018 in the Desarrollo Urbanoejido Matamoros neighborhood of Tijuana, Mexico. Photo By: Jose Lopez / Corsair Contributor

Central American migrant men eat dinner in front of the El Barretal shelter on Saturday, December 1, 2018 in the Desarrollo Urbanoejido Matamoros neighborhood of Tijuana, Mexico. Photo By: Jose Lopez / Corsair Contributor

Children play soccer at the El Barretal migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico on December 1, 2018. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton / Corsair Contributor

Children play soccer at the El Barretal migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico on December 1, 2018. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton / Corsair Contributor

A stuffed animal is left behind, alongside other personal items, at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex on December 1, 2018 in the Zona Norte neighborhood of Tijuana, Mexico. Rain over the past couple days has turned the shelter into an unsanitary flooded space resulting in the need to evacuate the migrants to a new location. Piles of clothes, sleeping bags, blankets, and other personal items now liter the field after many migrants were forced by the conditions to evacuate without the option of packing up their belongings. Photo By: Jose Lopez / Corsair Contributor

A stuffed animal is left behind, alongside other personal items, at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex on December 1, 2018 in the Zona Norte neighborhood of Tijuana, Mexico. Rain over the past couple days has turned the shelter into an unsanitary flooded space resulting in the need to evacuate the migrants to a new location. Piles of clothes, sleeping bags, blankets, and other personal items now liter the field after many migrants were forced by the conditions to evacuate without the option of packing up their belongings. Photo By: Jose Lopez / Corsair Contributor

Young teenage male members of the Central American migrant caravan overlook, while other members of the caravan arrive at the El Barretal nightclub, turned into a temporary shelter in, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. December 1st, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

Young teenage male members of the Central American migrant caravan overlook, while other members of the caravan arrive at the El Barretal nightclub, turned into a temporary shelter in, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. December 1st, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

A young male part of the migrant caravan finishes brushing his teeth, washing clothes and bathing in a muddy courtyard at the El Barretal nightclub turned shelter in, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. December 1st, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

A young male part of the migrant caravan finishes brushing his teeth, washing clothes and bathing in a muddy courtyard at the El Barretal nightclub turned shelter in, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. December 1st, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

A young male part of the migrant caravan holds up an American Flag, while other members of the caravan arrive at the El Barretal nightclub, turned into a temporary shelter in, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. December 1st, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

A young male part of the migrant caravan holds up an American Flag, while other members of the caravan arrive at the El Barretal nightclub, turned into a temporary shelter in, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. December 1st, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor