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Sun Nov 18, 2018, 05:48 PM

Migrants met with fear, disdain in Tijuana, Mexico

TIJUANA, Mexico In 2016, when as many as 3,000 Haitians who fled Hurricane Matthew ended up stuck in Tijuana without a legal way north, locals and leaders offered housing, clothing and jobs.

"It's something people in Tijuana would cite with pride," said Everard Meade, director of the Trans Border Institute at the University of San Diego. He summarizes Tijuana's response: "The United States couldn't do anything for them, but we did."

Mexico has long been a welcoming crossroads of the Americas with Tijuana its northern beacon. But this time, with an estimated 10,000 Central American migrants aiming to cross the U.S. border, good will is fading and hostility is growing.

Tijuana's conservative mayor, Juan Manuel Gastelum, has complained bitterly about the influx, local news outlets have asked who organized the caravan and social media platforms have spread stories of Central Americans using drugs.

"Human rights should be reserved for righteous humans," Gastelum said last week.

Like many places in the world, Tijuana has been infatuated with the kind of neo-nationalism embraced by President Trump, and some political leaders are all too willing to tap it for headlines, Meade said.

"Trump has infected the mayor of Tijuana," said Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angels, a pro-migrant group with members in the U.S. and Mexico.


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