For Central Americans, crossing through Mexico is dangerous. Not only because of government policies and cartels, but also because of the overall xenophobia against people from the isthmus. While there are certainly Mexicans who are extending a helping hand to the immigrant caravan fleeing gang violence, environmental issues, and poverty, there are many more who have opposed the increased number of Central Americans that have arrived Mexico. A recent video that has circulated online shows an angry group of Mexicans in Tijuana denouncing the immigrants.
Shouting “Mexico first” and “our safety comes first” and threatening to get physical with the asylum seekers, the crowd gets unruly when they apparently spot some immigrants. It quickly becomes hard to decipher what they say as they begin yelling on top of each other. The police tells them to calm down and to stop crowding the area.
The video is serving as an example of the dangerous ways that some Mexicans view Central Americans. For people from the isthmus, making their way through the Latin American country can result in harassment, kidnappings, and even death. While a lot of that does come from the government that deports them and the cartels that kidnap and sometimes murders them, the video illustrates that anti-immigrant sentiment is pervasive.
And it’s not just stopping there. Through an increasing number of WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages, Mexicans are calling for the deportation of the members of the caravan. On at least one occasion, participants of a WhatsApp group came together to discuss ways to deal with the rise of immigrants entering their cities. “Let’s go make sure they don’t get permission to stay, and then let the witch hunt begin,” Alejandra García told the small crowd, according to BuzzFeed News.
The crowd was pretty open about its negative opinions of Central Americans, but through their screens, the hatred is even more blatant. For example, a group called Citizen’s Blockade, which has more than 250 members, included a suggestion to hand out pizzas and hamburgers filled with pesticides to the caravan. Another one said they should burn down Tijuana’s biggest shelter.
Despite the fact that many Mexicans are offended by the way President Donald Trump talks about their country, they are using similar language to call for their deportation or worse.
“I don’t have grandchildren yet, but when I do, I don’t want them to grow up around these kinds of people … I understand Trump,” 52-year-old García said. “I don’t love him, but I know what it’s like to have to defend your country.”