Asylum Seekers Displaced from Shelters by Heavy Rains

A young child waits for his bus to leave a migrant shelter hosted at the Benito Juarez sports complex in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. The bus is headed towards El Barretal, a former concert venue in Tijuana, Mexico that is now being used as a migrant shelter because heavy rainfall flooded the sport complex and made the living conditions very unsanitary. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton/ Corsair Contributor

A young child waits for his bus to leave a migrant shelter hosted at the Benito Juarez sports complex in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. The bus is headed towards El Barretal, a former concert venue in Tijuana, Mexico that is now being used as a migrant shelter because heavy rainfall flooded the sport complex and made the living conditions very unsanitary. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton/ 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.

Central American migrants, mostly from Honduras, board a bus that will evacuate them from the flooded Benito Juarez sports complex to the new shelter situated at El Barretal in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. 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 sports 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 free to leave the shelter. 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 to the new shelter situated at El Barretal in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. 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 sports 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 free to leave the shelter. Photo By: Jose Lopez / Corsair Contributor

Migrant teenagers play soccer at El Barretal, a migrant shelter set up in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. These migrants are some of the first to make the move from the previous shelter at the Benito Juarez sports complex to El Barretal due to rainfall causing flooding at Benito Juarez. Although flooding made living conditions poor, some people stayed at Benito Juarez because of it's proximity to the office for asylum seeking applications. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton/ Corsair Contributor

Migrant teenagers play soccer at El Barretal, a migrant shelter set up in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. These migrants are some of the first to make the move from the previous shelter at the Benito Juarez sports complex to El Barretal due to rainfall causing flooding at Benito Juarez. Although flooding made living conditions poor, some people stayed at Benito Juarez because of it's proximity to the office for asylum seeking applications. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton/ Corsair Contributor

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



Central American migrant caravan members temporarily living at the El Barretal shelter struggle to grab bags filled with goods being thrown from a pickup truck in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. El Barretal was a former concert venue and night club that has been temporarily turned into a migrant shelter. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton/ Corsair Contributor

Central American migrant caravan members temporarily living at the El Barretal shelter struggle to grab bags filled with goods being thrown from a pickup truck in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. El Barretal was a former concert venue and night club that has been temporarily turned into a migrant shelter. Photo By: Zane Meyer-Thornton/ Corsair Contributor

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

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

A stuffed animal is left behind, alongside other personal items, at the Benito Juarez sports complex in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. 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 in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. 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 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 Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 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 Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

Young teenage male members of the Central American migrant caravan stand on the edge of a balcony overlooking other members of the caravan arrive at the El Barretal nightclub, turned into a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

Young teenage male members of the Central American migrant caravan stand on the edge of a balcony overlooking other members of the caravan arrive at the El Barretal nightclub, turned into a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 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 Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 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 Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Photo By: Daniel Bowyer / Corsair Contributor

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  • Captions in Article Updated January 25, 2019 with expanded reporting and a uniform location description.