After years of work, a Latina Muslim group has opened a shelter across the border in Tijuana, Mexico for both Muslim migrants and deported women and children of all faiths.
The center, opened Saturday by the Latina Muslim Foundation, will house 150 refugees.
“It came with a lot of challenges, being Muslim and a Latina in Tijuana trying to build a Muslim shelter was very difficult,” said Sonia Garcia, the president of Latina Muslim Foundation, CBS reported.
Due to an agreement between the United States and Mexico, migrants who seek US asylum can remain safely in Mexico until the immigration process is complete.
This is one of the main reasons why many Muslims refugees from Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and other countries risk their lives by making the arduous journey to Mexico.
Healing & Hope
As most refugees suffer unthinkable tragedies and arrive in Tijuana with almost nothing, the center was necessary to offer them healing and hope.
“The culture is different and the language is very different, so everything is just really hard,” said Ilyas Salarzai, a 21-year-old refugee from Afghanistan.
The center will provide basic needs to refugees like food & shelter, as well as giving them access to medical health checkups, dental care, and mental health and counseling services.
There is also a growing population of local Hispanic Muslims that lack resources and a place where they feel safe to practice Islam as a community.
This center will work as a Dawah center to educate locals about Islam and will providing a prayer area, Qur’an classes, food pantry, and offer some medical and dental services.
“It is a Muslim shelter, but anyone is invited to be in this shelter. Everyone who is looking for shelter is welcomed.” said Salarzai.
Mexico is a predominantly Catholic country, but the border city of Tijuana has always hosted a more diverse population of worshipers. In the last few years, Islam has begun making inroads and building a presence there.
The Muslim population in Tijuana is small, but incredibly diverse. People from all over the world attend Masjid al-Islam mosque. There are people here from India, Costa Rica, the Middle East, and of course all Mexico and the United States.