Residents said it was unfair to label them racists.
"There's a lot of focus now on the immigrant. They don't focus on us now, the Mexicans. What happened to our rights?" said Justino Espinoza, a 64-year-old retired boxer.
Signs of immigrants in the neighborhood are clear, said Mercedes Lopez Gonzalez. They litter the streets with clothes, plastic bags and cans of beans, she said, and crime is on the rise.
"There, they assaulted a woman," said Lopez, pointing down the street from her food stand a few blocks from the shelter. "There, they tried to take a 15-year-old girl."
It's hard to know exactly who is behind the surge of violence in the neighborhood, she said.
"We don't even know anymore if they're from here or they're immigrants. ... There are some who come in good faith," she acknowledged.
A man beside her chimed in: "There are others who come because they already killed people in their country."
The end of an 'oasis'
Last Saturday, local police fired gunshots into the air to break up a massive brawl.
Clashes started, church officials said, after trucks bringing food to the immigrants blocked the entrance to a resident's house. Immigrants jeered when the resident complained. And a verbal altercation quickly spiraled into a physical fight. One truck driver clubbed a resident with an ax.
"It's understandable that the neighbors didn't stand there with their arms crossed. They also started to attack, throwing stones and sticks," Rojas told reporters. "They threw a woman to the ground and kicked her."
Two days later, Rojas and other church officials wrote signs with magic marker on neon poster board, and tacked them beside the cross at the shelter's front entrance.
"Casa del Migrante 'closed.' Immigrant friend, continue your journey."
The shuttering of the shelter drew widespread attention.
Immigrant rights advocates described it as a significant setback, warning that long-simmering xenophobia toward Central American immigrants in the area had reached a boiling point.
"They face racial discrimination and social exclusion," Mexico City's Human Rights Commission said in a statement.
"Mexico is repeating the immigration policy of the United States. If we don't look at ourselves critically, we could fall into the same trap," said Raul Vera Lopez, a Catholic bishop in the northern city of Saltillo, according to Mexico's state-run Notimex news agency.
On Wednesday, Rojas described the shelter shutdown as "a momentary situation." Church and government officials are searching for a new location, he said.
But authorities have provided no time frame for a new shelter to open, or details about where immigrants should go.
"In the end, this house was an oasis," Rojas told reporters, "and they no longer have it."
That same day, Rosalba Alvarez said she was sad to see the shelter close, and doesn't agree with her neighbors.
"For one that did something bad, all the rest are paying for it," she said as she swept the sidewalk in front of her house near the shelter. "There is no evidence that all of them (the immigrants) are that way, as they say, drunks, drug addicts, dirty and aggressive."
Down the street, Justino Espinoza planted a white plastic lawn chair in front of his house. It was the first time in years, the 64-year-old said, that he had the chance to sunbathe without a Central American immigrant begging him for money or food.
A few blocks away, a group of immigrants took shelter in the shade beneath a tree. They napped beside the train tracks, on a bed of dirt and stones, preparing for the next leg of their journey.