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October: Process
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© Rebecca Mizrahi


A Closer Look at the Migrant Shelters in Tijuana

by Rebecca Mizrahi
July 31, 2019

Rebecca Mizrahi is a Freelance Photographer based in Los Angeles. You can see more of her work here

Migration has been a constant across the world and throughout history. With the increased politicization of immigration in the United States, a true humanitarian crisis has emerged on both sides of the U.S. and Mexican borders. A day spent visiting shelters in Tijuana provided an intimate setting to hear first hand stories about the violence, poverty and persecution that compels migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to leave their homes and risk everything for a chance at a new life in the United States. Most obvious in people’s stories is a sense of grief and loss, ongoing fear and uncertainty about what’s to come, and a tremendous longing for a safe, secure future. These images are from a day in the life. 

unnamed© Rebecca Mizrahi

The “double” border wall is visible from a bus in Tijuana. Non-profit volunteer organization, Border Angels estimates that since 1994, about 10,000 people have died in their attempt to cross the border. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 7,216 people have died crossing the U.S–Mexico border between 1998 and 2017. Conflicting estimates.

unnamed 1© Rebecca Mizrahi

Malecon, Playas de Tijuana. The border wall stretches into the Ocean but does not stop families from meeting to talk and pass notes to each other on either side. Although recent efforts seek to prevent this from continuing to happen. 

unnamed 2© Rebecca Mizrahi

One of many “missing” in Tijuana, one of the largest border metropolises in the world. It is not uncommon for male and female migrants to become trapped in the sex trade, with very few options to survive while they wait for asylum.  

unnamed 3© Rebecca Mizrahi

New tents, clothing and food provided by This is About Humanity. Name of shelter is concealed to protect asylum seekers fleeing violence/ persecution. 

unnamed 4© Rebecca Mizrahi

Donated blankets used for padding in lieu of mattresses.

unnamed 5© Rebecca Mizrahi

Children’s vitamins and prenatal pills sit atop a makeshift office in the center of the shelter.

unnamed 6© Rebecca Mizrahi

Child watches as new tents are set up and old blankets are removed, a bottle of medicine and a plastic spoon beside her.  

unnamed 7© Rebecca Mizrahi

A family watches as the shelter is overturned by volunteers trying to clean up after heavy rains.

unnamed 8© Rebecca Mizrahi

Diapers, a few toys and a math book show the simplest accumulation of items for a migrating family. Children have no way to attend school while moving from shelter to shelter and can go anywhere from a few months to several years without formal education.

unnamed 9© Rebecca Mizrahi

In 2018, Casa Cornelia Law Center responded to 883 adult asylum seekers in need, and 876 unaccompanied children.

unnamed 10© Rebecca Mizrahi

According to Casa Cornelia, about 90% of asylum seekers without an attorney are denied, but almost half of those with representation are successful. As of mid-2018, over 700,000 asylum cases remained open, with new applicants applying each day.