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As Migrants Strain Border Towns, Pressure Builds on Mexico to Act

“But,” he added, “it isn’t true that the governments have been unresponsive.”

The crisis, now in its ninth month, has been a crushing burden on the shelters.

The migrant population at one longstanding shelter, Movimiento Juventud 2000, with capacity for about 25 people, soared to about 250, many of them living in donated tents in an adjoining lot that becomes a swale of mud when it rains.

Iglesia Cristiana Embajadores de Jesus, a church situated in a denuded ravine on the western edge of Tijuana, was sheltering hundreds of people even though it was not connected to the municipal water supply and had to refill its tanks with a water truck.

Administrators at Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava, which had for years served as a soup kitchen, repurposed nearly the entire building, including corridors and the pantry, into a sprawling dormitory that at one point housed more than 500 people.

Claudia Portela, coordinator of Padre Chava, which recently opened a smaller second shelter, estimates that donations have provided for 98 percent of their needs during the crisis.

Government officials, while acknowledging that the bulk of the humanitarian assistance has come from civil society, insist that they have provided crucial services but have been sorely limited by budgets that were already under strain amid Mexico’s economic malaise.

“Our deployment has been very, very small,” Mr. Figueroa said. “Institutional capacities are not as robust as we’d like.” But despite the limitations, he said, government agencies had donated more than $ 280,000, about 445,000 meals, thousands of blankets, hundreds of mattresses and many other goods and services since late October.

State and federal officials, he said, were still discussing the possibility of opening a shelter, but the proposal raised difficult practical and philosophical questions.

Source: NYT > World

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