What the data says about the situation at the southern border and stories of refugees in Tijuana

An Eyewitness News crew drove down to San Diego and Tijuana to talk with people there about what is happening and how current and past U.S. immigration policy is impacting asylum seekers in Mexico.

We first met with professor and director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center of UC San Diego, Dr. Tom Wong, to talk about Customs and Border Protection numbers and the story those numbers tell.

"A lot of reporting about the Southern border has sort of used terms like a 'surge' or a 'crisis,' and the data don't really reflect that," said Wong.

According to CBP data, overall border encounters in 2019 increased 31% from January to February, versus 28% for the same period this year. In May of 2019, there was a peak when more than 144,000 encounters were registered vs. just over 100,400 in February this year.

"There's seasonality in the data; that when winter ends and the weather begins to warm, we see an increase of undocumented immigration at the Southern border which leads to increases in apprehensions by Customs and Border Protection," Wong said.

While in Tijuana, we met refugees from different parts of the world: a mother of three who said she and her children fled the Mexican state of Guerrero after being threatened by drug cartel, four siblings fleeing political persecution in Nicaragua, and a Haitian refugee looking for work after the 2010 earthquake made economic instability there worse.
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