Tijuana asks AMLO for help with migration and humanitarian crisis

Mexico’s incoming President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has his work cut out for him.

Looming in the backdrop of his Saturday inauguration is a laundry list of voter expectations and ambitious promises made by López Obrador, also known by his initials AMLO.

End corruption. Bring peace to a country that has been plagued by drug violence for decades. Jobs for everyone. Cheaper gas.

And he’s only got six years.

López Obrador vows to accomplish it all, and launch a “profound and radical” change in Mexico.

In Tijuana, his highest priority — something city residents expect him to tackle immediately after his swearing-in ceremony — are the thousands of Central American migrants on the brink of a humanitarian crisis at the border. Many of the migrants are waiting for a chance to plea for asylum with U.S. immigration officials, but they may be stuck for months.

High stakes are on the line.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to permanently shut down the border. His administration is pushing a “remain in Mexico” policy that would require asylum seekers to wait out the long U.S. immigration process in Tijuana.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum said the incident on Nov. 25, when hundreds from the caravan ran around Mexican federal police and rushed the border during a march, cost his city 129 million pesos, or $6.3 million, in revenue because U.S. officials closed the border for several hours.

In Tijuana on Saturday, people were watching the presidential inauguration activities closely on their phones and in bars on television. The new president’s inaugural speech blasted from car radios for those waiting in a 90-minute vehicle line to cross into the U.S.

At a restaurant just off Avenida Revolución in Tijuana, Diego Gonzalez, 19, said he’s looking for action right away from AMLO — not just big promises that never get fulfilled.

“This president is very different in the way he thinks,” Gonzalez said. “It’s going to be a little bit of a change. He wants to cause a disruption.”

Gonzalez said the economy should be the president’s prime focus. He said he feels very little pity for the Central American caravan.

“It was stupid of them to come here. It was never going to work,” Gonzalez said.

It’s a realization many in the caravan were coming to grips with by Saturday morning, as they refused to participate in a march planned by By Any Means Necessary, a leftist, pro-immigration group based in Detroit.

“I’m not going to march again. Why? They’re lying to us and saying the United States will let us in,” said Reinerio Lainez, a Honduran migrant. Tears welled in his eyes as he described his situation.

“I believed (U.S. officials) were going to look at my papers and my ID and grant asylum,” Lainez said in Spanish. “I’m confused about what is the process. One people say one thing, another say another.”

In his inauguration speech Saturday, López Obrador promised to address migration issues at the root, saying he will work with his counterparts in Central America to stem the flow of migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

He followed up, in one of his first acts in office, by signing an agreement with presidents from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to do just that. The plan includes a fund to generate jobs in those regions.

López Obrador, 65, won by a landslide, after years of his political party being on the losing end of elections. His party also won control of Congress and several state Legislature races.

Source: San Diego Union Tribune

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