More than one-third of the 6,000 migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, are suffering from serious health issues, including tuberculosis, chickenpox, HIV/AIDS, and respiratory infections, Fox News reported.
What are the problems?
Among the 2,267 Central American migrants who are ill, at least 101 have lice and skin infections, the Tijuana Health Department reported. There are also at least three confirmed cases of tuberculosis, four cases of HIV/AIDS, and four cases of chickenpox, a spokesperson with the health department told Fox News.
Other health concerns include the threat of a hepatitis outbreak due to unsanitary conditions.
Thousands of migrants are being housed at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex near the San Ysidro U.S.-Mexico Port of Entry, even though it can accommodate only 1,000 people. There are only 35 portable restrooms at the site.
A “No Spitting” sign was placed in the shelter because coughing and spitting are so prevalent.
On Tuesday, Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum said the city is spending about $30,000 a day to house the migrants and funding is running out.
“We won’t compromise the resources of the residents of Tijuana,” Gastelum said during a news conference. “We won’t raise taxes tomorrow to pay for today’s problem.”
Some migrants, facing months of delays and terrible living conditions, are deciding to head back to Honduras. Most of them remain determined to enter the U.S., although some have accepted temporary work and asylum from Mexico.
About 80 migrants voluntarily turned back Tuesday and 98 were deported by Mexican immigration officials for their involvement in violent demonstrations Sunday, Fox News reported.
Migrants who walked and hitchhiked for two months through Central America and Mexico are now faced with dire living conditions and a lengthy U.S. asylum process.
“They make the decision for a variety of reasons,” Ivonne Aguirre, a program coordinator with the International Organization for Migration, which is assisting migrants with returning home, told the Washington Post. “Some have sick relatives, some miss their families, some are surprised by the conditions here, which are not what they imagined.”
Mexico’s President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the country could offer at least 100,000 work permits to Central Americans who ultimately want to enter the U.S. There is a high demand for factory workers in northern Mexico and for workers for the “Maya Train” project in southern Mexico, according to the Post.