U.S. Opioid Problem ‘Being Dumped’ In Tijuana As Deported Addicts ‘Have Nowhere To Go,’ Says Activist

A sign displayed advertising "cheap drugs" on Tijuana street, next to McDonalds.
David McNew / Getty Images

The drug problem of America seems to be seeping over the border into Mexico where addicts are unable to receive the type of help they need, claims BuzzFeed. According to a Syracuse University study, since 2007, the U.S. has deported 355,000 undocumented individuals to the small city of Tijuana, just over the border. It’s likely that a large number of those individuals experience addiction, especially because a majority of individuals caught are implicated in stolen or illegal drug problems. However, when they are all dumped into an area that is known for ease of availability for drugs, drug addiction problems fester and grow.

Of course, this is after they have been detained in the U.S. prison system where they most likely did not have availability of care for their addictions, either. While the Bureau of Prisons claims that all patients receive such treatment, un-documented detainees claim they do not receive it. Immigration attorney Grace Meng stated the cold-hard fact.

“Normally BOP has lots of programming … but not for them,” Meng said.

Apparently, it might be possible to receive some type of treatment program as a detained illegal immigrant, but it is not easy. It should also be pointed out that these people have a better chance of finding drugs while in prison than finding treatment.

According to Dr. Patricia Gonzalez-Zunida, who has worked to help citizens in Tijuana since she was a young girl, the “dumping” of so many undocumented and drug-addicting individuals into the small city of Tijuana is creating large problems. There is nowhere for people to sleep, and drugs are in easy abundance. But it wasn’t always this way, as her life as shown her changes throughout the years.

“Now we’re seeing the recently deported. They’re recently new to the city; they don’t know where to go,” Gonzalez-Zuniga said.

“Those persons are more vulnerable, because they’ve become kind of lost in this jungle.”

Right at the U.S.-Mexico border, on the outskirts of Tijuana, Dr. Gonzalez-Zunida, who is an HIV/AIDS specialist from The Global Health Insitute at University of California, San Diego, sets up shop with small clinics aimed to care for addicts. She started these clinics in 2015 to offer immediate care for those in need. Services include the offering of clean syringes and needles, water, and general first aid care for patients experiencing health problems due to their addiction. Gonzalez-Zunida claims that over the years she has worked in Tijuana, more and more native-speaking English patients have approached her for help, which she says means that people are becoming addicted in the U.S.

“It’s very irresponsible to deport a patient … if they know they’re going to be deported to Tijuana without help here,” said Gonzalez-Zunida about the U.S. deportation policy.