Trapped in Tijuana, Their Asylum Claims Stalled, Hundreds of Refugees Storm the U.S. Border

| Revolution Newspaper |


More than 6,000 Central American migrants and refugees, mostly from Honduras, have been stranded for weeks in a sports complex turned refugee camp in Tijuana, Mexico. The numbers are expected to grow to 10,000 in coming weeks. They've traveled 2,500 miles on foot in caravans, fleeing intolerable violence, poverty, and repression in the countries they left to apply for asylum at the U.S. border. As more refugees arrive each day, they confront an endless wait—because U.S. Customs and Border Protection has intentionally slowed the asylum screening process to fewer than 100 applicants a day at the very time they knew large numbers of refugees were approaching. At this rate, it could take months of waiting in Tijuana before all of these refugees will have their initial screening, at which they must show border inspectors they have a “credible fear” of persecution if they’re forced to return to Honduras, or another home country.

These refugees, including mothers with small children, are packed into a baseball stadium filled to nearly twice its capacity. People have run out of what money they had. They’re sleeping shoulder to shoulder on pieces of cardboard, washing their clothes and showering with cold water from leaking pipes, and standing in line for plates of rice and beans donated by the people of Tijuana. Where does their courage come from? A refugee with her two- and five-year-old children told a reporter from the Washington Post: “We’re fleeing death. They killed my aunt, and I can’t even tell you the rest right now, but I’m scared.” There are hundreds, thousands more with stories like this, now stranded at the border.

Tear Gas, Not Asylum, for Refugees

The frustration, anger and fear of what’s ahead had been growing day by day when, on Sunday, November 25, 500 of the migrants decided on a peaceful march to the border to pressure the U.S. to speed up the asylum process. When Mexican federal police in riot gear tried to stop the march, hundreds of marchers maneuvered around them and began running toward and climbing the border wall. U.S. Border Patrol agents, claiming rocks were being thrown, fired tear gas canisters over the border into Mexico. The gas spread everywhere, choking hundreds who had only marched, or were just in the area. Mothers were seen fleeing with small children, fearing they would die from the gas they were choking on.

For the next six hours the border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego—the busiest in the world—was shut down to all vehicle and foot traffic in either direction. Mexican authorities reported they arrested 39 migrants involved in the events; then on Monday, they announced they had deported 98 Central Americans involved in the protest the day before. And the U.S. Border Patrol claimed it had arrested 69 migrants who had made it to the U.S. side of the border. The next morning the Mexican government stationed 500 federal police outside the refugee camp to intimidate any migrants who stepped out. And U.S. officials have announced it will bring federal charges against anyone who crosses the border from now on.

Grotesque Lies and Slander from the Top

Trump and his Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, wasted no time slandering the migrants, lying about what had taken place, and using it to whip up hatred toward the thousands of refugees being prevented from applying for asylum. In response to the massive outcry condemning the use of tear gas on women and children, the bullshit out of the mouths of Trump and Nielsen reached new depths. Trump dared claim to the world that these weren’t parents but “grabbers.” He said, “They grab a child because they think they’ll have a certain status.” Taking a page from Israel’s lies justifying its bombings of occupied Gaza and other hideous crimes against the Palestinians, Nielsen claimed that the Central American immigrants in Tijuana are using women and children as “human shields.”

The fear and white chauvinism these leading fascists are whipping up has a purpose—to make good on Trump’s promise that “Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court.” That means even after a refugee arriving at the border has shown a credible fear of persecution if forced to return to where they came from, they will not be granted refuge but be forced to wait years in Mexico or some other country till their court hearing. This is in complete violation of U.S. and international law—but it is another of the fascist norms the regime is trying to hammer into place.

The System’s Brutal Answer to the Refugee Crisis

The Trump/Pence fascists, and the capitalist-imperialist system they are leading, are responding to a refugee crisis: the number of refugees—especially unaccompanied minors and families with small children coming to the U.S.-Mexico border from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador seeking asylum—has skyrocketed since 2014. Of course, it is these refugees who are suffering in this humanitarian crisis. But for the Trump/Pence regime and its fascist base, it is this country, the U.S., that is facing the crisis caused by these refugees. What crisis? For tens of millions with white supremacy in their veins, this country’s “identity” as a “white Christian nation” is viewed as under attack by the rising number of dark-skinned immigrants.

The millions of people who are being forced out of where they live and seeking refuge should be welcomed! But it is also the reality that it is the workings of this system that are responsible for forcing these migrants and refugees from their homelands, and there is no way to solve this unfolding crisis short of a revolution that overthrows this capitalist-imperialist system.

American imperialism, under Democrats and Republicans, has violated, preyed on, terrorized and exploited Central America since the 1800s. They turned Honduras into a “banana republic” at the end of the 19th century—and then invaded it seven times between 1903 and 1925 to keep it that way! The whole country became a plantation growing bananas and coffee for international companies, and a sweatshop for cheap labor. The U.S. turned it into a base for dirty wars in Central America in the 1980s. And in 2009, under Obama, the U.S. backed a military coup in Honduras that has led to killings and violence at unbearable levels.

The attacks on the migrants at the Tijuana-San Diego border is part of a fundamental assault on the right to asylum for refugees, including the rewriting of U.S. and international law by Trumpian executive edict. The fascist regime has a lot riding on pushing through with this, and there are great stakes for humanity in whether they are able to succeed. But the answer is not to “go back” to the program of the Democrats. How did President Obama respond to the humanitarian crisis in June of 2014 when the south Texas border was flooded with unaccompanied minors seeking escape from the gang violence and extreme poverty? He immediately requested almost $4 billion from Congress—but not to provide comfort, shelter and help connecting with family members. It was entirely directed toward speeding up the apparatus designed to send these immigrants back to the hell they fled; to expand the number of holding cells so they could all be safely caged; and to lock down the border so this problem would not arise in the future.

There are actual answers to the questions of why all of this is happening, in these articles in the American Crime series.1 And there is a way, through revolution, that all this can change, which can be heard, for example, in this clip from Bob Avakian and in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.

STOP: The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!


1. See “Case #79: Ronald Reagan’s Honduras—The Atrocities of ‘Battalion 316’”; “Case #75: Obama, Clinton and the 2009 Military Coup in Honduras”; “Case #38: The U.S. Backs El Salvador’s Death Squad Government, 1980 to 1992” [back]


Refugee families confront border patrol at the Tijuana border, December 1. (Photo: AP)

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This video clip is from the Q&A following the speech Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. Watch the speech and learn more about it here.

Migrants storm the border at Tijuana, November 25. (Photo: AP)


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