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  • Caribbean and African migrants at El Chaparral international crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, July 9, 2019.

    Caribbean and African migrants at El Chaparral international crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, July 9, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 10 July 2019

Migrants say that Mexican immigration authorities are asking them for up to US$1,000 to speed up their asylum processes.

Over 200 migrants from Caribbean and African countries reported Tuesday abuses by Mexican authorities during a protest in front of "El Chaparral", a border crossing in Tijuana, where several National Guard and federal police officials were deployed during the demonstration.

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At Mexico's National Institute of Migration (INM) headquarters, asylum seekers from countries such as Haiti, Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon and Angola denounced they were asked for a "quota", which can reach up to US$1,000, to be written down on waiting lists held by Mexican authorities.

"They are asking for money to include them in the list," denounced Alberto Rivera, director of the Agape shelter, an organization that helps migrants in translating their petitions and demands.

Migrants allege that when they arrive to request their shift number for the list, Mexican migration staff asks them for money to accelerate their procedures.

A group of asylum seekers entered the INM to talk with the authorities, who positively responded to their concerns and vowed to place two observer officers to avoid such illicit money collection. 

Mural dedicated to migrants on a bridge located on International Avenue, a few meters from El Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana.

The Tijuana waiting list for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. has grown is at a rate never seen before. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that 9,150 people have been waiting at the San Isidro entry port for more than three months to request a turn.

"We come here every morning," a man from Cameroon said. "Most of us, we sleep on the street. We do not have food. It's hard for us."

The Tijuana asylum line was implemented in December 2017 due to what migrants refer to as the "measurement", a U.S. policy which limits the number of asylum seekers that border officials will accept at the entry ports each day.

In order to do so, Mexican officials call U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials to determine how many turns can be provided a day. Then, every morning early, migrants from all over the world gather near El Chaparral square to listen to the numbers called from the waiting list.​​​​​​​

Long waits are being carried out by asylum seekers, however, do not usually bring positive results. For instance, the Mexican INM reported that 18,503 Central American migrants were returned from the U.S. between Jan. 29 and July 7.

About 8,647 of them returned through the Reforma Passage in Ciudad Juarez; 6,217 people through the Chaparral in Tijuana and 3,637 people through the Garita Mexicali.

Only in the last month, the U.S. returned more than 8,000 Central American migrants to Mexico.​​​​​​​

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