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Surge in migrants seeking asylum at nation's southern border

Migrant shelters in Tijuana are at capacity
Migrants in Tijuana.png
Posted at 5:56 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 21:07:41-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The southern border has seen a surge in migrants seeking asylum already this year and humanitarian groups say shelters in Tijuana are beyond capacity as many families wait to try and enter the United States.

For dozens of these undocumented migrants, desperation led to the worst-case scenario on Sunday morning. Authorities said a boat carrying more than 30 people capsized off the coast of Point Loma, killing three. Officials believed this was a botched human smuggling operation.

"When the decision seems to you like it's a matter of life or death, you try anything you can to survive," humanitarian group, Border Angels executive director Dulce Garcia said. "That includes jumping on a boat that's supposed to hold six people, 20 at a time, and you hope, and you pray that you make it across."


For the last few weeks, Garcia has been in Tijuana, giving legal counsel to migrants stuck in Mexico. Since the Biden administration ended the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) or "Return to Mexico" program in February, Garcia said she has seen a few thousand people get released into the US to complete their immigration process. But those without open MPP cases, or those subject to Title 42 (Allows the US government to expel migrants back to Mexico to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in American holding facilities) are left on the streets of Tijuana.

"They don't know what to do," Garcia explained. "They arrive at the border, asking for asylum. They get rejected at the port of entry, and they have nothing left except to cross through the desert, or in these ways we are seeing that are very tragic."

Because of this, Garcia said Tijuana is inundated with homeless migrants, gangs preying on desperation, and coyotes looking to make extra cash.

The Biden Administration was supposed to end Title 42 months ago but has extended the Trump-era legislation, citing public health concerns.

Garcia and her organization are pleading to the Administration to include asylum as "essential travel." If not, she fears more tragedies like Sunday's capsizing boat happening every day.