Migrants volunteer to help expand shelter in anticipation of more asylum seekers


TIJUANA (Border Report) — Alfredo Escobar has been in Tijuana for more than a year, mostly staying at the Agape migrant shelter.

When it was learned that volunteers were helping to expand the shelter, he raised his hand and offered his building experience.

Since then, Escobar and others with similar construction backgrounds have worked on the project run by Pastor Albert Rivera.

Pastor Albert Rivera runs the Agape shelter in Tijuana. (Jorge Nieto/Special for the border report)

“We are starting to lay the groundwork, the migrants themselves are doing the work,” Rivera said. “We still have to level some of the land with heavy machinery, but the bulk of the work will be done by our migrants.”

Rivera told Border Report that her facility can now accommodate about 600 people. With the expansion, he hopes to be able to accommodate up to 1,500 people.

“We want to build a second floor, maybe even a third so that we can accommodate as many migrants as possible,” he said. “We know that more and more migrants are coming and with the MPP deportations we are going to have even more people.”

Workers like Escobar say the project makes them feel productive and knowing that their work will help other migrants is a great incentive to get the job done.

“I support all the people who come to Tijuana, those who are already on the road, they will need help,” Escobar said in Spanish. “Often when they come here there is no place for them, maybe that will help them in the future.”

The land for the expansion was donated by the state of Baja California, according to Rivera.

Alfredo Escobar is one of the migrants providing labor to expand the Agape shelter in Tijuana. (Jorge Nieto/Special for the border report)

“Most of the materials are also from the state, he’s been very cooperative, but it’s something we’ve been talking about for 10 years, I’m glad it’s finally coming to fruition,” Rivera said.

Rivera said migration to Tijuana had slowed compared to last year, but he said the need for shelter was still critical as no one had room to house the migrants who were still arriving daily in the city.

“Now most of our migrants are from Mexico, from the states of Michoacan and Guerrero, there are some from Central America and Haiti, but it’s mostly Mexico now,” he said.

Rivera hopes to complete the first part of its expansion project by the end of the year.

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