Migrant caravans winding their way toward the U.S. are reigniting rhetoric and arguments about immigration and border security. And it's not the first time. USA TODAY


TIJUANA, Mexico — The Mexican federal immigration agency is preparing to open a second emergency shelter for thousands of mostly Central American migrants who traveled to this border community as part of a caravan to seek asylum in the United States.

The vast majority of the migrants are staying at the city-owned Benito Juarez sports complex, an outdoor recreation area that is at nearly double its intended capacity just two weeks after it opened.

But with rain in the forecast for the remainder of the week, Mexican officials are working against the clock to open up a more suitable indoor space to house migrants for up to several weeks. 

"We're worried about the health and security conditions of families that are in the sports complex, so that's why we're getting ready," said Mario Osuna Jimenez, the city's social-development director.

On Wednesday afternoon, dozens of workers swept, scrubbed and cleaned a large events center on Tijuana's east side as they waited on approval from Mexico's National Migration Institute to move forward with plans to turn the space into a temporary shelter.

The events center is 161,000 square feet. More importantly, it has five roofed areas, Osuna Jimenez said. That would allow them to house families separately and meet other health and security needs.

READ MORE: Migrant caravan update: What we know now

As work crews cleaned the facilities, officers stood guard and denied access to reporters outside the entrance. Osuna Jimenez said they would have an answer from the immigration agency by the end of the day, which would allow them to bring in tents, and set up dining and sanitation facilities.

"We're ready to work all night to be able to open it, and so that it's ready to go as early as (Thursday) morning," he added.