With the spread of the Coronavirus, the need to provide solutions for people “stuck in Tijuana” is more urgent than ever.

Why have they come? Formerly most migrants arriving in Tijuana were sole men, arriving from the south, attempting to cross into the United States in search of employment. Now the demographics are much more complicated.

Migrants from the south today are commonly fleeing criminal violence, political corruption and persecution, unproductive fields due to climate change, and severely limited opportunities for advancement via work or education. At present there are over 10,000 migrants on the list maintained by Mexican authorities, waiting in Tijuana for an initial asylum hearing with US officials. These people – many entire families, many single women with children and many unaccompanied minor children – do not immediately have access to traditional work opportunities in Mexico.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people deported from the United States have settled in Tijuana. Many of these deportees had never set foot before in the city, but have chosen to remain so that they would be within driving distance of their families in the southwest United States. This population includes many single men, but also single women, and women with children, almost all members of “mixed-status” binational extended families.

For 44 years Via International has served migrant populations in the US/Mexico border region alleviating systemic poverty exacerbated by migration. We have established successful, ongoing programs of community development with arriving populations in multiple locations in Baja California. Now, through strategic regional partnerships, we are preparing to launch an integrated program of accompaniment for newly arrived migrants and deportees in Tijuana.


Through the Via Migrante program people from within these most vulnerable populations can exercise their inherent right to self-determination, and become active participants in their own development and in the creation of safe, strong and self-sustaining communities in Tijuana, Mexico.

Tijuana has long been recognized as a land of opportunity for people from parts south. The city is known for full employment, with job offerings abundant. The local economic landscape is sure to be changed by the spread of Covid-19, but as life in Mexico and Central America will also be disrupted, migration to the city is sure to continue. Likewise, the U.S. government will continue to deport people to Mexico, and many deportees will choose to make Tijuana their home.

New arrivals in Tijuana typically join the most marginalized neighborhoods of the city. They need pathways to become participants in establishing community – safe places where they can work and their children can go to school while remaining connected to their families living on the US side. They need support services to deal with the trauma they have experienced and case management to secure the paperwork needed to establish permanent residence and work eligibility in Mexico. They need support to secure a livelihood and discover a way forward.


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