The tear gas is gone. But in this shelter at the border, the situation is getting worse

Updated 5:38 PM EST, Thu November 29, 2018
TIJUANA, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 24:  An aerial view of the temporary shelter set up for members of the 'migrant caravan', with a section of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier visible (TOP R),  on November 24, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. Around 6,000 migrants from Central America have arrived in the city with the mayor of Tijuana declaring the situation a 'humanitarian crisis'. Most migrants in the caravan say they plan to petition for asylum in the U.S. The incoming government in Mexico will reportedly support a new Trump administration policy requiring migrants asking for asylum in the U.S. to remain in Mexico while their cases are processed.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
TIJUANA, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 24: An aerial view of the temporary shelter set up for members of the 'migrant caravan', with a section of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier visible (TOP R), on November 24, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. Around 6,000 migrants from Central America have arrived in the city with the mayor of Tijuana declaring the situation a 'humanitarian crisis'. Most migrants in the caravan say they plan to petition for asylum in the U.S. The incoming government in Mexico will reportedly support a new Trump administration policy requiring migrants asking for asylum in the U.S. to remain in Mexico while their cases are processed.
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(CNN) —  

Tents cover most of the dirt on the baseball diamond. Pants are hanging out to dry on top of the bleachers. And the scoreboard at Little Padres Park is blank.

There’s no room for sporting events here now.

This municipal sports complex in the Mexican border city of Tijuana is packed with people. But it’s been transformed from an athletic facility into something entirely different: a temporary home base for thousands of Central American migrants who say they have nowhere else to go.

Many say they want to seek asylum in the United States. But the waiting list at the nearby port of entry grows longer every day. It could be weeks – or even months – before they have a chance to cross the border and make their case.

US officials say limited resources and capacity mean they can only process a fraction of cases on the waiting list daily.

Meanwhile, human rights groups describe conditions inside this makeshift shelter where migrants are waiting as squalid and unsanitary. And things could get far worse in the coming days, with rain forecast to drench the area. Tijuana’s mayor has deemed the situation a crisis and says his city needs more help from federal and international humanitarian officials to handle it.

Migrants say life is difficult here – but the situations they’re fleeing were far worse.

The Benito Juarez Sports Complex has become Tijuana’s main migrant shelter. Here’s what it looks and sounds like inside:

Open sewage and puddles of runoff

From the fields outside at the sports complex, it’s common to see – and hear – helicopters flying through the air. On the other side of the border, US authorities are keeping watch.

Migrants can see the US border from here, too. The large, metal fence looms in the distance, behind the row of blue portable toilets. Nearby, not far from growing piles of trash, some use outdoor showers. Others clean themselves using bottles of water.

Runoff from showers and portable toilets leaves a nearby field muddy at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex in Tijuana, Mexico, where thousands of migrants have taken shelter as they wait to seek asylum in the United States.
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Runoff from showers and portable toilets leaves a nearby field muddy at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex in Tijuana, Mexico, where thousands of migrants have taken shelter as they wait to seek asylum in the United States.

Some migrants tiptoe through the mud, trying to avoid the runoff from the nearby bathing and bathroom facilities. Children play in the puddles.

At times, the stench of sewage fills the air.

Sudden shouts for help

The shouts came suddenly on Wednesday afternoon.

“Careful! Careful! Make way!”

Three people raced into a makeshift medical clinic at the shelter, carrying a man into an examination room and pulling a curtain behind them.

In another room nearby, Carlos Betanzos told CNN conditions inside the shelter are increasingly concerning.

“This shelter is not very clean inside. The bathrooms are very bad. They are sleeping on the floor. The sanitation is not very good,” said Betanzos, who’s working at the shelter as part of a medical mission of doctors and nurses from the Church of the Nazarene.

Carlos Betanzos of the Church of the Nazarene says conditions inside the makeshift shelter in Tijuana are concerning. "The sanitation is not very good," he said.
CNN
Carlos Betanzos of the Church of the Nazarene says conditions inside the makeshift shelter in Tijuana are concerning. "The sanitation is not very good," he said.

Betanzos said more than 100 patients come to their clinic daily. And more than 200 more go to another clinic inside run by the Mexican government.