Hundreds of residents of Tijuana gathered on Sunday to demonstrate against the migrant caravan, shouting “no to invasion” and “Mexico for Mexicans”, while others condemned the protest, calling it racist and xenophobic.
At least 3,000 migrants are in Tijuana, a Mexican city close to the border with California, to seek asylum in the United States, or even in Canada.
They are part of a larger caravan of migrants who left Central America a month ago, fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The so-called “Citizen Movement against the chaos of the migrant caravan” in Tijuana has accused the migrants of causing insecurity in the city and in Mexico.
“Mexico has always been a nation that has opened its doors to all those in need, but there are ways in which I can come to your house requesting support and asking for help,” said one resident.
A few yards away from the protesters, some Tijuana residents, including LGBT groups, stood in support of the migrants defending them against what they consider an expression of racism and xenophobia.
“They are some, they are not all (the migrants that cause problems). We can not label everyone, because that’s where very good people come from. There are women, children,” says Yolanda Rocha, founder of the Mariposas, an LGBT shelter.
During a talk at a hostel in the centre of the city, the archbishop of Canada, Leonardo Marin Saavedra, raised the possibility of the migrants being accepted in Canada if the conditions demanded by the Canadian government are met.
The Catholic priest proposed a Mexico to Canada airlift, a boat transfer to Vancouver or permission from US authorities for the migrants to travel by land in buses.
“The American dream is that, a dream, and you can have a territory of peace in Canada,” he said.
He told the migrants “do not get discouraged”, “be respectful” in Mexico, “ignore expressions of discrimination” and modify “negative behaviours and expressions”.
He said different organisations will be responsible for sending a project proposal to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to see if it is possible for Canada to accept some of the caravan migrants.
He asked migrants “not to have any illusions but to have faith”.
The archbishop will hold a press conference on Monday in Tijuana to discuss the proposals he raised to a group of the nearly 3,000 migrants who occupy a shelter in the northern area of Tijuana.