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World News

Historic Mexico church shelters hundreds of migrants

by Reuters Journalist

As an influx of migrants passes through Mexico on their way north to the United States, some have found a temporary home at this church in Mexico City.

This migrant tent city began to form around two months ago.

Now, the Church of Solitude hosts more than 1,000 people on its grounds.

Most are from Venezuela, Haiti, and other Latin American countries.

Many bring with them painful memories from the road.

“We’ve endured rain, we’ve endured problems: children have been kidnapped, women have been raped. We are in the wild.”

Those that land here try to create some semblance of a normal life.

Children play between the tents, and families gather for meals around open fires.

You can even find a haircut, or a pedicure.

Some of these migrants are waiting for an appointment with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP.

Others say they will take 'the train’ north– a euphemism for entering the U.S. illegally.

The 17th century church is in a tough neighborhood, prone to crime.

By day, it hosts regular services.

But at 6 o’clock, as the sun sets, the pews are stacked away, and hundreds of mattresses are laid on the cold marble floors.

Migrants are ushered in, given a meal and a safe place to sleep.

Father Benito is a priest at Solitude.

“We have hosted up to 1,300 migrants. The numbers fluctuate, thank God we have around 600 or 700 people. But this is volatile. Some days the number goes up. Outside the church there are people who have been waiting for over 15 days to get the CBP appointment, they have set up tents. The ones who enter the church get accommodation for three to five days. Some are allowed to stay for longer.”

Some migrants report even longer wait times for an appointment– up to several months in some cases.

Against these difficult circumstances, migrants turn to their community in the tent city as a source of strength.

“Here we are one whole family fighting together: Haitians, Colombians, Chinese, Japanese… we are one family.”

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