Tijuana (Border Report) — The city of Tijuana has opened a shelter to house Ukrainian migrants who continue to stream into the city located just south of San Diego.
It has been set up in the Benito Juarez sports complex.
Enrique Lucero, the city’s director of migrant affairs, stated it can house up to 300 migrants inside the basketball gym with room for dozens more on an outdoor court.
“This action is a preventive measure to avoid people congregating near the San Ysidro Port of Entry as we avoid what could be a possible shut down of the border crossing,” said Montserrat Caballero, Tijuana’s mayor. “We will continue to provide attention and public safety to immigrants as they wait for their process to evolve with American authorities.”
Caballero referenced a fear among many officials in Tijuana that if too many people congregate near the port of entry, CBP could shut it down to avoid a bottleneck or potential breaches. BorderReport has not been able to confirm with CBP if it’s considering that action.
An estimated 1,200 Ukrainian migrants are now in Tijuana, according to Lucero.
“If the United States can find a way to process these migrants rapidly, this shelter can wrap up in three to four weeks,” he said.
Lucero stated that while the city is providing space and security for the shelter, three organizations from California have committed to bringing in food and water while offering other services such as transportation.
“As soon as migrants arrive in the city, they will be brought here,” Lucero said.
One woman from Ukraine named Irina was grateful for the shelter.
“Mexico and Tijuana are super,” said Irina as she gave the facility the thumbs up. “This place is for our children not to sleep on the streets is good.”
The shelter has also been afforded a lot of volunteers, mostly Ukrainian Americans from north of the border.
“The main emotion right now is just grief,” said Odea, one of the volunteers. “A lot of the women who are here left their husband back home to fight in the war, so it’s hard. There are a lot of traumatic experiences here.”
Odea would like the U.S. government to increase the number of temporary humanitarian visas it is providing to Ukrainian migrants.
“We hope the U.S. Government will establish a faster system so they don’t have to stay here for more than two to three days. In the meantime, I think this is a much better location than sleeping on the streets,” Odea said.