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Exclusion, Shelter – And Cheap Labor? New Camp Feeding Factories At The Border

Exclusion, Shelter – and Cheap Labor? New Camp Feeding Factories at the Border

A new shelter for migrants excluded by the U.S. government’s new policy of registering migrants who pass initial credible-fear interviews, putting them in a queue for full asylum hearing months ahead, and returning them to Mexico to await their hearing dates has just opened in Tijuana with room for 3,000 people.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that as of Friday, December 13, the first 12 people were housed there.

Built in an industrial park, close by several multinational-owned factories, the facility welcomed reporters for a media tour as it opened this past week. Of the shelters that have sprung up to house waves of migrants coming to Tijuana over the past year, the largest have been temporarily supported by municipal and regional government agencies and been prone to shut down with little notice or evident logic. A patchwork of private and humanitarian-run ad hoc hostels and emergency-housing facilities inadequately address much of the need. The new shelter in the El Aguila industrial neighborhood of Tijuana’s Cerro Colorado sector is built with offices for provision of social services, air conditioned, and clearly intended to feed migrants into area manufacturing jobs.

As the San Diego Union Tribune reports,

Mexico’s Deputy Secretary of Employment Horacio Duarte Olivas said the goal is to help migrants integrate into the Baja California labor market while they wait for their next court appointment in the U.S.

The location of the facility is in an industrial park where migrants may be able to find factory jobs, but it is somewhat isolated from the central, urban parts of the city where other service-industry jobs and transportation may be more readily available.

In contrast to the United States, Mexico has been liberal in granting one-year humanitarian visas to migrants intending to pass through. Grupos Beta, the paramilitary migrant-aid arm of the Mexican immigration ministry, is generally seen as a source of support for migrants, at times organizing bus transport as caravans coalesce, and supplying food and water. The role of Grupos Beta in running the “lists” to meter access to U.S. Border Patrol facilities for presentation of asylum requests is more controversial, and some organizations including humanitarian aid group Al Otro Lado counsel caution in dealings with any Mexican government entity.

This new federal shelter, built for 3,000 and openly organized to link migrants to area factory work, looks at first blush like a far better perch for migrants in limbo than other options on the ground in Tijuana. But the prospect of a pipeline for thousands of migrants from border exclusion to factory labor in Mexico raises serious questions. Amid the thoroughgoing corruption of Mexican government and industry, one rings out: Who benefits?

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