In this episode, we speak with someone involved with El Comedor, an autonomous mutual aid hub and organizing center in so-called Tijuana, Mexico, which was founded by anarchists and asylum seekers in 2018. From a previous report:
El Comedor is currently one of the only places, if not the only place, serving hot meals everyday in Tijuana. Though “the caravan” is out of the news, thousands still pass through Tijuana on their way north hoping to escape violence.
During our discussion, we speak about autonomous, mutual aid, and anarchist projects in Tijuana, Mexico as well as the rapidly militarizing borderlands. Under Biden, the US, and by extension, the Mexican and Canadian borders have continued to crack-down on refugees. In late March, the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) was passed. As Canadian Tire Fire wrote:
[The new agreement] forces migrants to claim asylum in the “first safe country” they reach, [and] until recently applied only to legal border crossings. Until Saturday, migrants could cross into Canada from the US, and vice versa, at irregular points along the border and, if they made it, claim asylum once they arrived without being immediately turned away under the agreement.
This crackdown comes after years of far-Right attacks on migrants and refugees and has already led to the deaths of eight people that died attempting to cross into Canada, including two infant children.
The Biden administration has also continued to pressure the Mexican state to act as a police force for Central and South American migrants. Under Title 42, a rule which was originally put into place by Trump advisor Steven Miller, the white nationalist and former friend of Richard Spencer, the United States has barred asylum seekers from entering into the US under the ironic pretense that it will contribute to the spread of COVID-19. While Title 42 is set to expire in a month, Biden’s new plan is now to:
[N]ot [allow refugees] to enter the US to apply for asylum, regardless of the fact that such a right is guaranteed under international law, on the grounds that they should apply for asylum in Mexico instead.
[President] AMLO has deployed the Mexican military to serve as an auxiliary of the US border police, arresting and often brutalizing Central and South American immigrants passing through his country on the way to the United States.
This brutality was recently thrust into the spotlight by the deadly fire in Ciudad Juarez, after guards refused to release detained migrants when a blaze ripped through the facility, killing forty and injuring over twenty. And while hundreds of migrant children remain separated from their families, according to the New York Times, “The Biden administration is considering reviving the practice of detaining migrant families who cross the border illegally — the same policy the president shut down over the past two years because he wanted a more humane immigration system…”
As neoliberalism, US foreign policy, and climate change continues to force millions from their homes in an attempt to cross into the US and Canada, autonomous spaces like El Comedor will be needed more than ever.
More Info: Support El Comedor here and check out this article on Mutual Aid in the Borderlands by Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and check them out on Instagram here.