SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — As the expected end of Title 42 approaches, the city of Tijuana is scrambling to find additional shelter space for migrants.
Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero says her city is expecting an influx of migrants and have begun planning to house them in the city’s sports facilities.
“We don’t have a number of people who could arrive due to Title 42,” she said. “We’re going to get our sports complexes ready as far as having adequate supplies if and when we need them.”
Tijuana has 30 sanctioned shelters serving about 5,000 migrants.
Enrique Lucero, head of the city’s Migrant Affairs Office says shelters are already saturated and can’t handle additional groups of migrants.
“The shelters are all operating at 95 or 100 percent capacity,” said Lucero. “Many are already over capacity.”
Lucero stated the exact number of migrants in Tijuana is unknown considering there are many more living in hotels or private homes.
Following the end of Title 42, Lucero expects long lines at ports of entry.
Under U.S. immigration laws, asylum-seekers must present themselves at a U.S. port, airport or official land crossing to request the opportunity to apply for asylum.
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have discretionary powers to decide if a migrant has a valid persecution claim due to their race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, membership in a particular social group or political affiliation.
“You could see up to 10,000 people line up to ask for asylum,” said Lucero. “We are expecting very long lines and delays.”
Lucero expects some migrants will be denied access to the U.S. and sent back to Tijuana.
And migrants who are caught entering the United States between ports of entry risk being returned to Mexico and banned from the U.S. for five years, 20 if caught a second time, according to Border Patrol spokesperson Angel Moreno.
The additional migrants who will find themselves back in Mexico in cities such as Tijuana are expected to increase demand for shelter space, Caballero said.
“We always find ourselves in this type of problematic situations, but we’re hopeful the state and the federal government will step in and we can be secondary responders,” she said.
May 11 is when Title 42 is expected to be eliminated.