TIJUANA (Border Report) — Located within Scorpion Canyon on the west side of Tijuana, the Templo Embajadores church this past year had morphed into a shelter for Central American migrants, only recently receiving Mexican families who were expelled from the United States.
In recent weeks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been flying Mexican families who were apprehended in Texas or Arizona to San Diego, where the migrants are being sent back to Mexico through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
Many of these families are ending up at Templo Embajadores, where on average, according to people who run the shelter, 500 to 800 people are staying per night.
It provides three meals a day and tries to pack everyone inside during the night.
On the morning Border Report visited, Sacramento Haro was passing out styrofoam cups filled with hot chocolate. Behind her, a group of women made gorditas over a hot fire, while others washed clothes by hand.
“It’s a bit sad, just like I had to flee my hometown because of organized crime, I believe most of the Mexicans here are just looking for a safer place for their families,” Haro said.
Haro is from the Mexican state of Jalisco.
She said two months ago she packed her bags and two kids and headed to Tijuana after she was kidnapped and her butcher shop was threatened.
“I took a plane from Guadalajara and came to Tijuana, but when I got to the border, they told me that, unfortunately, the border is closed,” she said.
Haro was directed to the shelter, where she now volunteers in the kitchen as a way to keep her mind occupied.
It is operated by Pastor Gustavo Bando, who said they’ll continue helping migrants no matter how many they might get.
“We’re here to help, if someone wants to help us we would really appreciate it,” he said.
An agency lending support is UNICEF, a United Nations group that provides help for children and families in need.
“Most of the people here are women and children that we are worried about,” said Lourdes Rosas, head of the Unicef office in Tijuana.
Rosas stated they will provide as much assistance as possible in terms of educational and health programs for the migrants.
“We have to teach them and protect them against covid,” said Rosas.
Haro says she welcomes all the help they can get, and remains hopeful Americans will eventually welcome asylum-seekers like her.
“Open your hearts, open your doors, so we can come in, most of us are hard-working people, we know the United States is about hard work to get ahead,” Haro said.