Glimpse at life inside Tijuana migrant shelter during the pandemic

Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 11:52:21-04

TIJUANA, Mexico (KGTV) -- Concerns have been raised about the conditions of migrant shelters in Tijuana that are housing people who've been expelled from the U.S. during the pandemic.

On Monday, 10News interviewed Father Pat Murphy, the director of Casa del Migrante, Tijuana’s oldest migrant shelter.

“Last week, we decided with our doctor that it would be best to cut off all entries and exits from the Casa so if people wanted to continue to work, then they would need to go rent [elsewhere] and so now we're down to about 38 people,” Murphy told 10News.

He said that a dozen are asylum seekers. The rest are deportees.

Murphy's team provided new photos that show what current life inside the shelter is like. He added that they're taking strict measures to mitigate risk of spreading the virus.

It was three weeks ago when the U.S. government closed the border to all non-essential travel and announced that most illegal entrants would be immediately expelled.

“The deportees at the beginning -- about 2 weeks ago -- there was the big boom and now it still continues but not in great numbers so I'm still not sure where all the people are going,” Murphy told 10News. “One of the big groups that was coming before all of this was the Mexicans escaping violence in places like Oaxaca and Guerrero and they have stopped all together so I think the word got out that there is no asylum process right now. There's limited shelter space in Tijuana so it kind of trickled down.”

He said he fears that some of the other shelters in Tijuana are not able to protect migrants from exposure to COVID-19 and added, “Remembering my visits to them a few months back, I just wonder how they could do social distancing when they're all kind of packed in. How can you do social distancing when you're sharing a tent with three other people?”

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, single adult apprehensions in the San Diego sector for fiscal year 2019 to date in March compared to fiscal year 2020 to date in March is up by 9%, while family unit apprehensions is down by 63%.