More than 5,000 Haitian migrants are stuck in the border city of Tijuana, sleeping on the streets and living in shelters as they wait for an opportunity to enter the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is struggling to process the influx of Haitian migrants fleeing political and economic instability in Brazil, and many migrants don't receive asylum appointments for months.
After the devastating 2010 earthquake killed more than 220,000 people in Haiti, thousands left for Brazil where a booming economy promised jobs and financial prosperity. Many Haitians found work in agriculture and construction.
In 2015, Brazil began to face political and economic turmoil culminating the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff for corruption. Jobs began to dry up.
Migrants heard stories of successful resettlement in the United States as they became increasingly frustrated with harsh conditions in Brazil. Early this year, thousands of migrants began a difficult voyage through Central America in pursuit of a better life in the United States.
"I thought that if I left to another country, I could find a better life," said Suzette Rathon, a migrant staying at Casa Del Migrante in Tijuana. "I went through all these countries, but if you ask me, it's best to go to the United States."
Rathon worked in Brazil for three years before she lost her job. "When I was in Brazil, I couldn't succeed," she said.
The voyage from Brazil to Tijuana was a difficult one for many of the migrants. While passing through Central America, harsh conditions met the migrants at each border. In Nicaragua, many trekked through the forest because they couldn't afford to pay immigration agents.
"The journey was a tough journey," said Muta Irene, a female migrant traveling by herself. "Many people lost their lives. There were snakebites, wild animals, all the like," she added.
In Tijuana, migrants have congregated in crowded temporary encampments.
For years, the city has housed migrants trying to reach the United States, but that population has never been as high as it is now, according to staff at the city's migration shelters.
One shelter, Juventud 2000, in Tijuana's Zona Norte, has substituted its 60 bunk beds with a backyard full of tents. Some nights there are as many as four people sleeping in tents made for two.
Those in charge of the shelters are making do with the resources they have. However, even as they stretch their capacity, they say the increased population is too much for the city to handle and is straining its limited resources.
"Without the Mexican government opening up another shelter, I think there is the possibility of (Tijuana) imploding," said Rev. Patrick Murphy, the director of Casa Del Migrante, a shelter that currently houses 160 migrants.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is processing 150 cases a day of undocumented migrants at the San Ysidro border, but the wait time for an appointment is over three months.
The United States relaxed its immigration policies for Haitian citizens after the devastating earthquake in 2010. In September of this year, the U.S. government announced that it was ending those immigration policies, and said they would begin deporting those who didn't yet have the legal right to live in the United States in October. But after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in on October 4, deportations were delayed indefinitely.
It's unclear how many Haitian migrants will be able to permanently resettle in the United States. Many Haitians have received appointments with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but an appointment does not guarantee asylum.
As Irene waits in limbo, she says she hasn't lost faith in finding a better life in the United States.
"I just hope that we can enter the U.S." she said. "That's our prayer and that's our wish."
Reach Staff Reporter Ryan Thompson here.