KPBS | Over a hundred asylum-seekers from Cameroon blocked the path of Mexican immigration vans Tuesday morning in Tijuana, in protest of what they believe to be corruption by Mexican immigration officials.
The complaints of the Cameroonians stem from the Mexican authorities refusal to accept migrants from Africa for transport to the U.S. side of the border, where they can officially declare asylum. The Africans claim that days have gone by without Mexican officials calling any numbers from an unofficial “waiting list,” and yet Central American asylum seekers have been granted entry to the U.S. on those days.
“It’s corruption plain and simple,” said an asylum-seeker named Beatriz, who asked that her last name not be published. She said Central Americans have been paying bribes to the immigration officers. Beatriz has been waiting two months to cross into the United States and saw her number recently skipped over. “I can’t wait another two months.”
Asylum-seekers from Cameroon are, for the most part, members of the English-speaking minority in the country, and they have faced intense persecution since 2016. Many have traveled through South America, the jungles of Panama and Central America, only to run out of time and money south of the U.S. border.
“We’ve been suffering for two months. We have nothing to eat. We’re sick. Everything is finished,” said Stanley, an asylum seeker.
He also asked that his last name be withheld.
Stanley was part of a group of eight African asylum-seekers that were asked to meet with Mexican officials in the hopes of ending the protest, which had drawn the attention of the newly-formed Mexican National Guard.
After an hour-long meeting, the asylum-seekers and Mexican officials emerged with a “deal” that the African asylum-seekers would be able to verify the unofficial list each morning, to make sure the correct numbers were being called. The group dispersed and let the immigration vans proceed, but not without a promise by many to hold the Mexicans to their word in the final stage of what has been a very long journey for them.