TIJUANA, Mexico – Tensions over the arrival of Central American migrants increased on Friday when the mayor of the Mexican border city of Tijuana and the governor of the state of Baja California warned that there will be zero tolerance for visitors who violate the law.
Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum, of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), tried to justify his statements, which were published on Friday, in which he expressed his rejection of the presence of Central American migrants and his intention to have them deported.
“We want Article 33 of the Constitution to be applied to them. Tijuana is a city of migrants, but we don’t want them this way,” the official said, alluding to the precept of the Mexican Constitution that provides for the expulsion of foreigners.
Later he clarified that he was referring only to those who violate the laws and not to those who conduct themselves with order, and he only labeled “potheads” against those who smoked that drug and not to all the migrants.
“We are anti-potheads, just as we are anti-drunks,” he said.
In an interview the official said he would hold a citizen consultation to decide whether to continue receiving migrants and what to do with those already in the city.
He also indicated that the consultation could take place when the federal government sends the resources to help the Central Americans, for which the state requested $4 million.
He stated that Tijuana is experiencing a problem caused by the federal government, which “indolently allowed the entry of many people” in reference to the entry “without any order” of thousands of migrants on Oct. 19 from Guatemala.
He questioned why Central Americans decided to come to Tijuana when it is known that it is very difficult to cross into the United States and that there are other borders crossings, closer to the center of the country, where migrants have converged before continuing their march north.
But there was no response from him, nor from the municipal secretary of Public Security, Marco Antonio Sotomayor, about the brawl that started early Thursday morning when a group of residents arrived at a migrant camp in the area of the beaches in Tijuana to scold the Central Americans and demand their departure.
Meanwhile, different organizations announced on social networks the staging of two marches on Sunday, one in favor of migrants and against discrimination and racism, and another of those who are against the arrival of Central Americans and their stay.
For its part, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) warned of the seriousness of hate speech, disqualifications and criminalization of vulnerable groups, among which it mentioned migrants and applicants for refugee status.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior reported in a bulletin that a working group made up of authorities from the three levels of government (federal, state and municipal) has been set up in Tijuana to deal with migratory flows.
In the meeting, the governor of Baja California, Francisco Vega de Lamadrid, also of the PAN, said that the support of federal authorities with resources and programs to face the extraordinary arrival of Central Americans to Tijuana is fundamental.
“We must mainly guarantee order, because we see a concerned citizenry, so it is very important to send the message that there will be zero tolerance for those who violate the laws and regulations in force in our country,” he said.
If this happens, he added, “these people will be made available to the National Institute of Migration for immediate repatriation.
In Tijuana, some 9,000 people of the different migrant caravans which traveled through Mexico since mid-October are being concentrated, coming mainly from Honduras and El Salvador, all hoping to make it to the US.