09/22/2020

California housing costs push migrants away from areas providing the most help

In recent weeks, more than 7,000 migrants have gathered in Tijuana, hoping for asylum in the United States. Some will be deported. Others will be detained for long periods of time.

Those who have made it into California are finding support mixed with hardship. Across the border, there’s a cadre of pro bono attorneys eager to help them navigate the asylum application process. But the areas offering the most assistance also tend to have the highest cost of living.

“A lot of our immigrant community are finding themselves having to move outside of Los Angeles so that they can afford to live,” said Patricia Ortiz, a lawyer with the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project.

“But once they’re there, there is not quite the same amount of resources or support that they would have here,” she said.

One of Ortiz’s clients, Rosa, fled gang violence in El Salvador with her two children. Before arriving in Los Angeles about two months ago, she pictured the city as a place full of luxury and natural beauty. Some areas are like that, Rosa said. But her corner of Los Angeles looks and feels familiar.

“I sometimes feel as if I were in the capital of El Salvador,” said Rosa, who requested that her last name be withheld because her asylum case is ongoing.

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