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Tijuana YMCA sees decrease in migrants

Vladimir Salazar

Vladimir Salazar

Vladimir Salazar, Staff Writer

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YMCA centers within the United State are widely known for being recreational areas or facilities where minors can go after school and get involved in various types of activities or sports.

While this is one of the functions of YMCA centers on a global scale, in the city of Tijuana they are shelter areas for young migrants.

The YMCA house of migrants located in the city of Tijuana, Baja California, has been under operation for 27 years, where it has received approximately 60,000 minors throughout its course.

The main purpose of this facility is to receive Mexican repatriates coming in from the U.S. A repatriate is a person who goes back to their home country, in most cases when a Mexican repatriate goes back to Mexico it is due to deportation from the U.S.

The YMCA facilities give repatriated minors a place to stay, reconnects them with their families and gives assistance in sending them back to their city of origin within the country of Mexico.

Even though the major emphasis of this organization is to receive Mexican repatriates that get deported from the U.S. the organization also receives Central American minors who are trying to cross into the U.S.

Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the three countries that together are known as The Northern Triangle, are countries with some of the highest levels of violence worldwide.

The United Nations office on Drugs and Crime reported homicide rates in Central America “four to six times higher” in comparison to those in North America. The citizens that inhabit the Northern Triangle try to escape their home countries due to the massive violence that is composed of gangs or drug cartels.

The gangs that are in control of the Northern Triangle are widely known for their sinister ways of operating within these countries. These gangs have gained a notorious reputation for committing acts of crime such as murder of minors, kidnapping, rape and human trafficking.

The gangs have gained power and control over territory of these countries that for many citizens these areas have become uninhabitable. This humanitarian crisis that has existed within these countries is what is causing many Central Americans to flee.

The YMCA center in Tijuana has received various minors that come from the countries within the Northern Triangle. The minors end up discovering this place by word of mouth from organizations within Mexico that help them connect to the YMCA in Tijuana.

Uriel Gonzalez, coordinator of the YMCA house of migrants in Tijuana, said that even though the majority of minors that end up in this institution are repatriated minors, there have also been various cases of Central American minors arriving at the facilities with the hopes of getting into the United States.

The main reason why minors escaped their home countries is due to the high-living risks that come with living in one of the countries within the Northern Triangle. The YMCA centers provides Central American minors with a place to stay, and it also helps them with the refugee process in order to get them into the United States.

The process, according to Gonzalez, begins by assigning the minors a lawyer which will evaluate their case in order to see if they qualify to get a refugee status in the U.S.  

Central American minors have to be able to prove that there is a reasonable amount of danger within their country of origin in order to be granted the access of a refugee.

The problem that the YMCA facility has faced in the last couple of days is that no minors, either from Central America or Mexico, have arrived.

Uriel said nothing of this sort has been seen in the 27 years that the house of migrants has been under operation.

“People don’t want to cross,” said Uriel Gonzalez, “they’re afraid, even though nothing is really happening, simply the way the mass media are presenting the news, on a daily basis the presidential figure of the U.S. has something to say concerning the topic of immigration.”

The YMCA hasn’t received a minor for the last 10 days, Uriel said that since Trump became president, the percentage of minors arriving to the YMCA decreased.

The minors that are trying to emigrate into the U.S. are only doing it for the mere fact of survival. These minors aren’t trying to get into the United States to live what Americans romanticize as the American Dream. “For many of them, the dream isn’t what it seems, for them this is another opportunity of life, it is survival,” Uriel said.

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