This thesis explores the border town of Tijuana, Mexico as a site of fragmentation and rupture along the migration journeys of African and Haitian migrants transiting the South American-Central American corridor towards North American destinations. Extra-continental migration of migrants from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean to Latin America has been an emerging migration trend as global migration governance becomes increasingly restrictive and externalized. U.S. immigration and asylum policies implemented at the southern border have made migrating and making claims to international protection difficult for those migrants who arrive at the border. These policies, coupled with the indefinite U.S. land border closure since March 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, subject migrants to remain in Mexico for protracted periods, often times several years, while they wait to cross the border and/or claim asylum in the United States. As they find themselves ‘stuck’ in Tijuana, this thesis looks at the ways in which African and Haitian migrants organize in their everyday lives for survival and mobility within the liminality, marginalization, and racialization which they experience in the city. These migrants practice dual organization, on the one hand to sustain themselves, and on the other to actualize their onward migration projects, through building social networks and care and use of urban space as temporary. In tracing the ‘city from below’ through the perspective of migrants and migrant mobilities, African and Haitian migrants are active in the socio-spatial transformations of the city. In organizing everyday life, migrants maintain their aspiration and desires for future migration to imagined destinations elsewhere. Suspended between the various thresholds of the city, this thesis shows how African and Haitian migrants negotiate, circumvent, and contest the multiple layers of migration and asylum governance which aim to keep them in Mexico, through their continued practices of mobility.


School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Degree Name

MA in Migration & Refugee Studies

Graduation Date

Fall 12-21-2021

Submission Date


First Advisor

Gerda Heck

Committee Member 1

Martina Rieker

Committee Member 2

Luisa Feline Freier


170 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item