Solidarity For Refugee Caravans in Tijuana

Join our FB page for daily updates on what is happening, volunteer efforts. The FB page is also a great way to meet other folks and join efforts.

This is a directory of information for folks who want to go to Tijuana and provide support for the refugee caravan. Our hope is that this document can eventually grow and be shared so that when people head to TJ, they can have a better idea about how they can help. Most of the information is Tijuana-based organization and efforts. But as time passes, we will add the information of U.S. based efforts to help migrants. We feel this is the best direct way to help folks, without having to go through third parties.

If you want highlight other efforts or organizations based in Tijuana,  please send  an email with the name of the organization or group, their address, and a list of what they most need. We will post as soon as I can. We also open to edits. Pardon any mistakes in advance. xiomi13@yahoo.com

Background

There is no one organization where everything is being coordinated. But there are several Tijuana-based organizations that are doing lots of work.There is a large government run shelter called El Barretal located at Ruta Mariano Abasolo 10998-11016, Matamoros Norte-Centro-Sur, Mariano Matamoros, Tijuana, B.C. It is closest to Otay Mesa border crossing.

The caravan was first “housed” at the Deportivo Benito Juarez, a location that flooded during the rains in November. Migrants were encouraged to move to the new shelter about a 30 minute drive from the original shelter. Buses took folks to the new shelter, but many migrants did not want to move. They were suspicious of being taken away from the Downtown Tijuana area. Many chose to stay and camp outside the original shelter or have found other local shelters to stay in.

The migrant “shelter” is now at El Barretal, an abandoned event venue in Tijuana. The venue has only one entrance which leads into a large staging area, with the periphery made up of several small rooms. Parents with children are being housed inside the actual covered venue. While it is unclear how many people are sheltered there. This place is bigger than the previous shelter, and as of December 12, 2018 there is running water, electricity and food. Many people continue living on the streets as well.

There are two organizations that have served as a campaign center in the Zona Norte of Tijuana. They are Enclave Caracol and Al Otro Lado.  Both are located at:

Calle Primera 8250, Zona Nte., 22127 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. You can read more about them in the donations section.

Tijuana has been a long-standing major crossing for migrants on their journey to the U.S, even before this most recent caravan. People from all over the world have gone to Tijuana to enter the U.S. and ask for asylum.  Along with the Central Americans from the Exodus asking for m there are also people from Eritrea, China, Nigeria, Russia, Haiti and Mexico. If you don’t know anything about asylum law, do some reading before you go so you have a basic framework about what is going on.  You can read here some basic info on the process.

There are several lawsuits being launched to push back on the unfair and inhumane practices at the border. But while these get resolved, migrants need updated information on the process and what is happening so that they can make informed choices about what to do next.

Remember, this is not the first immigrant caravan so there are on-going issues with the asylum process, not unique to this current caravan, but things are certainly worse. Below is the

On-going information that migrants need:

Getting a Number: When you apply for asylum, you are supposed to enter the process right away. There is a waitlist created by the Mexican government in conjunction with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) because there is not enough personnel at the US border to handle these cases. While this wait list is actually not legal, it is what is currently in place and the Know Your Rights work is to let people know about this process. Currently, there is a 4-6 week  wait for your number to be up. As more people arrive, we expect people to be waiting for up to 6 months. Here is an article on the precarious situation of unaccompanied minors in this process.

New Rule Issued by Trump: Asylum law permits someone to ask for asylum when they enter the US, if they are apprehended by  CPB as they cross, or if they already live in US and are in deportation proceedings. Trump has issued a change and now anyone asking for asylum must ask for it immediately at a legit border crossing. Anyone who tries to cross another way and gets caught will NOT be eligible for asylum. While this is illegal, and probably contrary to the US constitution, this is information migrants need so they can make decisions on how they want to proceed.  This new “rule” by has been stalled in the courts and you can read more here.

Enclave Caracol is a vegetarian cafe that is providing free food, medical treatment, and a safe space for migrants.  Food Not Bombs Tijuana seems to be co-coordinating the space with them. Please check their facebook for a list of things they need. But as of 12/5//18, what they need most are VOLUNTEERS to cook and serve food, as well as fresh food to keep feeding folks.

Enclave Caracol works directly with other groups in Tijuana. For various reasons, you may never know who the different groups are, but please trust that that they are helping as best they can.

Kitchen basics like cooking oil, fresh food like onions, carrots, celery, fresh fruit for eating as well as for making agaus frescas (papaya, pineapple, mamey, whatever.  These food should be  in bulk. It is best to buy the food in Tijuana. You can go to el Mercado Hidalgo to buy in bulk and for the best value. Otherwise, you can also go to Costco, Smart and Final or other local supermarkets.

They are trying to provide nutritious meal for folks, so please NO sodas, flavored drinks, or junk food.

Al Otro Lado provides legal services and information to migrants. They are located on the rooftop of Enclave Caracol and are coordinating their own outreach plan, and also work with  other local groups.

DONATIONS

Getting Donations into Mexico

It can very hard to bring in used clothing donations into Mexico. You may bring donations from the U.S. into Mexico, but items must be new and you are supposed to declare what you are taking. No live plants or fresh produce can cross the border.

Custom in Mexico has a website which walks you through how to bring in donations.  Scroll to the bottom for english version. It is unclear if Mexican customs officials even know or respect that process. If you have experiences you want to share or update on a better process, please email xiomi13@yahoo.com with the Subject Line: Getting through Mexican Customs.

A wonderful volunteer offered the following advice:

I have brought carloads of donations to the people at El Barretal and Benito Juarez and found that declaring the donations (all new items) at the customs office before crossing the border feels like the ‘right’ way to do this. I drive to the far right lane to declare items. This entails filling out a form and talking to the customs agent who determines the ’tax’ or ‘duty'. If they start with a high dollar amount, I ask if they can’t lower it, as it is all donations. The last few times they have charged me $25 (500 pesos) which seems reasonable. We can only bring in $300 worth of goods, so I always say I have that or less. Then I go into the building and go to the second set of windows on the left. Paperwork is then given to me to take to the windows on the other side where I pay; then back to the first windows for a stamp on the paperwork and back to the car to get in line to cross the border. That paperwork gets me through secondary inspection should I be pulled over.

Another thing we learned about what we couldn’t bring in besides fresh produce is rice or beans, as these are regulated by the government.”

For those bringing a car load of donations, please consider that you may be returned to the US with your donations, or in worst case scenario, you will have your donations confiscated. Some people advise to bring things only in your trunk, put them in luggage NOT plastic garbage bags in order to draw less attention to yourself.

Memo from the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego on bringing donations.

The Government of Baja California, through its Council for the Attention of Migrants, has designated Mr. Eduardo de Leon as a point of contact for all matters related to international donations. You can reach him on his cell +52 1 664 413 4085 or at cerecero22@gmail.com.

You can also support the local economy by purchasing items in Mexico.

You can donate straight to organizations or you can also take your donations straight to areas where folks from the caravan are camping out.  These are the folks most in need.

Some groups are hesitant to accept cash donations for various reasons. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but learn to take no for an answer. Folks have their reasons.

There is currently no central area for giving donations at El Barretal. The traffic around the are is difficult. This can become overwhelming as a group may form around your car and people might start grabbing things. Things may change and get more organized as time goes by. So try speaking to someone inside first. Truly to speak to the monitors at the gate to see if there is a possibility to drop off donations inside. But it is unclear if these donation will get to migrants.

 The Tijuana Authorities have been hoarding donations and they have not been getting to people in the camp in the previous camp.

Crossing the Border into Tijuana from the US

Check out this Know Your Rights information for dealing with Border Patrol.  It has a section on border crossing.

The closest border crossing is San Ysidro

There is another border crossing at Otay Mesa which is further away from where we are staying.

Crossing By Car

If crossing by car you can drive across.  There will be a lane if you want to declare goods  you are bringing into Mexico.  If you are only bringing your personal luggage or an extra bag with donations you can put those things in the trunk and go through the regular line.  However you never know if you will be stopped and searched.

If you are bring a car full of donations check out this doc with more information about bringing donations across the border

Crossing By Foot

Here is a good article with instructions for crossing by foot.

This website lets you know if the port of entry is open and how long the wait times are to cross by foot or by car.

Digital Security KYR for border Crossing - Article and Pocket Guide Put your Phone on Password protect and disable the fingerprint or facial recognition.  If you think you could be at any risk of being denied entry back into the US based on your immigration status it may be best to temporarily disable your social media accounts before crossing back into the US. 

Organizations Accepting Donations

Here is a link to a list of existing Albergues/shelter for Migrants in Baja California (the State where Tijuana is located) and what they offer.  Here is a map of all the migrant shelters in Tijuana.

Below we have detailed a list of shelters and organizations that we know to be trusted and working in Tijuana right now

Templo Embajadores De Jesúso Embajadores de Jesus

  • Cañón Del Alacrán #4094 Colonia Divina Providencia
  • 22525 Tijuana, Baja California

Pastor Saida has been receiving displaced people for years.From Haitias migrants recent arrivals  Central American and displaced Mexicans from other cities as well.

In this church converted into a shelter, the tents that have been donated occupy a space where

This shelter is always looking for donations in particular:

  1. Tents
  2. Sleeping bags
  3. Fresh produce for cooking
  4. Baby Formula

Enclave Caracol (Food Not Bombs Tijuana)

Cale Primera 8250, Zona Nte., Tijuana, B.C. Mexico

enclavecaracol@gmail.com - Chris +52-1-664-669-9045

  • Enclave Caracol is NO LONGER DISTRIBUTING CLOTHING DONATIONS. They do not have the volunteers to distribute the clothing. They will accept clothing donations but please know it might not get to people immediately.
  • Baby Formula (purchaseTents and sleeping bags (ideally bought in Tijuanaasince CBP is preventing people from bringing donations)

Al Otro Lado

Cale Primera 8250, Zona Nte., 4th Floor, Tijuana, B.C. Mexico

They work to get legal observers as well as attorneys out in the field. Al Otro Lado is unique because it coordinates U.S.-based immigration law attorneys to do pro-bono help on the Mexico side of the border. They have Mexico-based staff who are U.S.. immigrant attorneys.

Al Otro Llado has been in Tijuana for a while and has been helping migrants from Tijuana.  They want more people to come be legal observers, do “Know Your Rights” information (must speak fluent Spanish, and immigration attorneys.  If you wish to volunteer with them you can show up at their office (located on the roof of Enclave Caracol) in the morning (10am). You can also email volunteer@alotrolado.org.

You can also donate the following for the Al Otro Lado crew:

  • Packaged Snacks to have on hand for migrants and volunteers who might spend a long day there
  • Water Donations
  • Office Supplies (paper, notepads, printer paper, ink)- check with them first

Jardin de Mariposas (Centro de Rehabilitación)

Yolanda Rocha founded el Jardin over five years ago out of a labor of love. Most rehab centers discriminate against trans people, obligating them to cut their hair, dress according to their assigned gender, etc. El Jardin accepts and affirms people’s identities as well as helps them kick their addiction, find a job, and thrive. They also develop leadership skills of residents to become activists. Tijuana is still a largely homophobic and transphobic place-- it’s one of the most conservative cities in Mexico. Because it is a rehab center, they are not able to house folks that are not in recovery.  If you wish to make a donation, please email jardindelasmariposas2014@gmail.com or call 664 5292417 Yolanda will arrange a place for you to meet if needed. They are looking for:

  • Fresh Food for cooking daily meals
  • Hygiene products (soap, toothpaste, deoderant, cleaning supplies)
  • Gently used Clothes & Shoes (for women and men).
  • For someone to pay their monthly bills (can be one-time donation). Yolanda does not take cash, she insists on giving you the bill and having you go pay to corresponding agency. We recently paid their water bill which was about $7000 pesos going back to January 2018.

Instituto Madre Asunta

Calle Galileo 2305, Buena Vista, Lopez Leyva, 22416 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

This shelter for cis-women and their children. They have 40 beds, but 140 people staying there. Here is what you can donate to them

  • Mattresses (can be roll-up); buy locally if possible
  • Bed Clothes, blankets,
  • Gently used Clothes & Shoes for women and children ages 0-17
  • New Underwear and socks
  • Food Staples in bulk: Rice, Beans, Lentils (and other grains), Onions, Carrots, Squash, Fresh Fruit, Sugar, Salt, Spices.
  • They might take cash donations

Casa Del Migrante

Address: Calle Galileo 239, Postal, Lopez Leyva, 22416 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

Directly across the street from Instituto Asunta, this is a cis-men shelter. Some of the men have partners and kids staying at Asunta. Here is what you can donate to them

  • Mattresses
  • Bed Clothes, blankets,
  • Clothes & Shoes for me
  • Food Staples in bulk: Rice, Beans, Lentils (and other grains), Onions, Carrots, Squash, Fresh Fruit, Sugar, Salt, Spices,
  • My experience is that they take cash donations.

Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava

For almost 20 years, this place has offered meals to migrants coming through Tijuana. My understanding is that they offer food to anyone that comes in and is respected by many people, including LGBT leaders. We will try to visit this place and ask what donations they are most in need of.

Healing & Medical Aid

The Wound Clinic

For the past three years, a group of volunteers has been working side by side with Tijuana physician, Patricia Zuniga Gonzalez providing compassionate medical care to thousands of homeless people in Tijuana. Inspired by her work and moved by the degree of need in these patients, One Small House is serving as fiscal sponsor for her movement: The Wound Clinic.

The clinic operates from the Enclave Caracol space, 2nd Floor.

If you are interested in supporting this work, you can volunteer by contacting clinicawound@gmail.com.

Supplies are purchased in Tijuana and you can donate directly through their website.

Demands to the US Government

Demand Congress pass the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act to end all military and police aid to the dictator in Honduras.  H.R.1299

Facilitate access to the asylum process in the US and immediately increase the number of asylum seekers processed in San Ysidro ports of entry to 300 people per day.

Remove the troops from the border. Not one more dollar of funding for the Department of Homeland Security: no money for border enforcement, no money for the wall, no money for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and no more boots on ground

MORE TOPICS TO COME:

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

LOGISTICS IN MEXICO

  • Driving vs. Not Driving

  • Cash & Money Exchange

RESPECTING CULTURE, AUTONOMY, AND OTHER PEOPLE’S SPACE

Reserve Judgement and Questions:  There are a million reasons why people are coming to Tijuana. Be thoughtful about what you ask and don’t press people if they are not willing to share.

Local organizers and service organization are working very hard and are trying to scale up to be able to meet the needs but are very under resourced for the level of people who have arrived.  Please hold off judgment.  Folks are in the crisis management mode and working very hard.  

(more to come…)

Safety

Protection from Tear Gas

  • Gas Masks
  • In case of tear gas exposure, saline solution is recommended.
  • Any exposed skin should be washed with soap and water. Shower first in cold water, then warm water. Do not bathe.
  • Don't rub your eyes or face, or this will reactivate any crystals.

Background Context

Radio interview with Bartolo Fuentes, the man the dictator accuses of organizing the caravan, is useful both because of the breadth of context he gives as well as because the line of questioning by the reporter gives the mainstream line and then he responds point by point really powerfully.

Short Video on the U.S.-supported Honduran dictator Juan Orlando Hernandez electoral fraud and some of the root causes on why people are fleeing Hondurans.  Here a good documentary about the 2009 coup https://youtu.be/K0BR_fcLfic

 This has good synopsis of immediate backdrop, although written about previous caravan.