As large groups of Central American refugees and migrants reach the Mexican border city of Tijuana, the US military has responded by reinforcing security measures; deploying troops and installing barbed wire and barricades. Last week, US President Donald Trump signed a controversial proclamation to ban certain groups of applicants from seeking asylum.

On Thursday November 8 the Trump administration announced new restrictions on refugees and migrants attempting to cross into the United States at the border with Mexico. For at least the next 3 months people will only be able to apply for asylum along the US-Mexican border at official ports of entry.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Southern Poverty Law Center immediately joined forces to sue the Administration, claiming that the proclamation violates federal law, which should recognise the right of people to seek asylum regardless of where and how they entered the country. Tom Jawetz, vice-president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, also sights the Immigration and Nationality Act which “says very clearly that any person can apply for asylum whether or not at a designated port of arrival”.

Meanwhile, approximately 400 refugees and migrants have so far reached Tijuana, with more and larger groups expected in the coming days.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has travelled to the border, for the first time since President Donald Trump announced that over 7,000 U.S. troops would be deployed to the area, in what critics are describing as a “costly political stunt”. Barbed wire and position barricades and fencing are being installed at Tijuana, Mexico, at the westerly end of the border, about 38 km from San Diego.

Many of the refugees and migrants in Tijuana are undeterred in their attempt to seek protection. One transgender woman, whose partner had been persecuted and killed last month in her home country, explained “I prefer to be in detention in the United States than to return to my country, where I know they are going to kill me for being different.”


Photo: (CC) Aaron Brown, January 2006

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.