Police used tear gas to stop hundreds of migrants attempting to rush the border fence to claim asylum in the US. Mexican authorities are to deport migrants accused of trying “violently” to cross the border.
All border traffic was halted for several hours at the busy crossing between the US city of San Diego and the Mexican city of Tijuana on Sunday after migrants from Central America attempted to make their way over the border fence, the US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agency said.
Hundreds of migrants, mostly men, made a dash for the border fence and tried to climb over, officials said. Border security officers used tear gas to disperse the migrants.
Local authorities said they arrested 39 people involved in the incident. In response, Mexico said it would bolster security at its border. By late Sunday, US authorities reopened the crossing in both directions, the CPB’s San Diego branch said in a tweet.
More than 5,000 Central American migrants have gathered in Tijuana after traveling through Mexico during the last several weeks, largely on foot in so-called caravans. They have been waiting in a stadium in Tijuana for the chance to gain entry to the United States.
Most of them say they are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries and hope for asylum. Thousands more are traveling through Mexico toward the border with the same aspirations.
In a news release on Saturday, the CBP said that agents at a different border crossing near Yuma, Arizona, had rocks thrown at them when they tried to arrest an individual who claimed to have been part of a migrant caravan.
Migrants reject Mexico’s help
The migrants carried hand-painted American and Honduran flags and chanted: “We are not criminals! We are international workers!”
Local media reported that US Border Patrol helicopters were hovering above the crossing as border agents attempted to hold firm on the ground.
More than 5,000 migrants have been camped in and around the sports complex in Tijuana.
Agents at the San Ysidro entry point are processing fewer than 100 asylum petitions a day.
President Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to express his displeasure with the migrant caravans coming up from Central America.
Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No “Releasing” into the U.S…
ls,av, mm/ng (AFP, AP, Reuters)