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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/6/2013 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tent city of El Mapa is a den of drugs and violence and home for deportees.

Tijuana is home to a massive number of refugees awaiting a chance to return to the United States after being deported. Many of those refugees are making their homes in a semi-permanent tent city where drugs and violence are rampant.

The poverty of the homeless in Tijuana is extreme.

The poverty of the homeless in Tijuana is extreme.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/6/2013 (4 months ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: el mapa, Tijuana, tent city, illegal immigration


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As a virtual civil war continues in Mexico and the economy improves in the U.S., illegal immigrants are once again eying the United States as a destination for a better life. those who are caught are dumped in Tijuana where they must settle into a tent city.

Although many are entering the country illegally, they are doing what they can to assimilate. In the infamous "El Mapa" tent city in Tijuana, more than half of the residents speak English and have family waiting for them north of the border.

California authorities say most of the deportees, about two-thirds, have criminal convictions. This appears to be true, except those criminal convictions are not for violent crimes. Many are for misdemeanors including traffic infractions. A full one-third have no criminal record at all.

Mexican immigrants are lured to the United States with the tempting prospect of work and an opportunity to raise children in a place that isn't riddled with gang violence. The southwestern border of the U.S. has always been porous with waves of immigrants passing both directions with the seasons since people can remember.

In many southwestern communities, the Christmas break at schools has been adjusted to accommodate this migration as many native Mexicans travel home for Christmas, emptying some schools of their students.

Not all of the immigrants into the United States enter the country legally, and a crackdown on illegal immigration, fueled by a prolonged recession for Middle America has led to an increase in the apprehensions of illegal immigrants. These people arrested in California are eventually dumped unceremoniously across the border in Tijuana.

Even foreign nationals from other Latin American countries are dumped into Mexico, a display of crass racial insensitivity.

For most of these people home isn't in Mexico, but across the border in California. Most have families waiting for their return. With no place to go, they have settled by the hundreds into tent cities like El Mapa where the chief amenity, according to Al Jazeera America, is a porta-potty.

Fed by activist groups, the people are left to fend for themselves and try to cross back into the states. Some, financed by relatives across the border, pay coyotes to illegally smuggle them across the border. Unfortunately, coyotes are human traffickers affiliated with criminal gangs. It's an expensive and dangerous proposition.

In the tent city, despair quickly seizes new arrivals. Depressed and desperate many turn to drugs to quell their anxiety and depression. Before long, violence and even murder occur. Police also harass the residents who are generally unwanted and seen as a blight.

The Catholic Church continues to petition the U.S. government for a compassionate and speedy immigration reform plan, however policymakers have stalled and nothing is forthcoming soon.

Although illegal immigration is itself a crime, compassion must outweigh, especially when people who have lived productively and without committing subsequent crimes (beyond entering the country illegally) have formed families in the United States. The politically popular deportations have a very real cost in human terms.

For anyone who sees El Mapa with their own eyes, this is a stark and brutal truth.

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