Tensions escalate at US-Mexico border

Tensions ramped up at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday as U.S. authorities shut down one of the busiest ports of entry in the world and fired tear gas at a group of Central American migrants.

Migrants dispersed as the wind carried the tear gas across the border, causing some children to cry and choke as their parents held them tightly, the Associated Press reported.

Thousands of migrants have been camped out in squalid conditions in a Tijuana sports stadium for more than a week, according to The New York Times. Members of the so-called migrant caravan, they are seeking asylum in the U.S. as they escape rampant poverty and violence in their home countries. 

Hundreds of the group’s members came together for a peaceful demonstration in Tijuana on Sunday, calling for their asylum claims to be processed more quickly, Reuters reported. The demonstration reportedly got out of hand when hundreds of migrants broke away and headed toward the border. 

Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) at that point shut down the San Ysidro Port of Entry, halting vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the region. 

Mexican federal police attempted to stop the migrants as they rushed toward the border, but they were unsuccessful, the Times reported.

A Mexican government official told Buzzfeed that 30 people were able to successfully breach the U.S. border. 

Mexico on Sunday said it will deport up to 500 migrants from Central America who sought to cross over, the Independent reported. They pushed past lines of Mexican police as they flooded across a river bed to the border fence, according to The New York Times. 

CBP did not immediately respond to The Hill’s requests for comment.

“This morning, CBP was forced to close the San Ysidro Port of Entry to ensure public safety in response to large numbers of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. illegally,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement reported by multiple outlets. 

She said some of the migrants attempted to “breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border” and accused them of seeking to “harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them.” 

Trump has been ramping up pressure on the Mexican government to deal with the migrants, who have been moving by foot through the country for weeks.

He tweeted on Sunday, “Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border, or if originating countries would not let them form (it is a way they get certain people out of their country and dump in U.S. No longer).” 

Julio Ulloa, who is coming from Honduras, told Buzzfeed News that people in Tijuana are becoming “frustrated” as the U.S. processes only around 100 asylum claims per day. Residents of Tijuana have reacted to the caravan’s arrival with hostility, holding protests and calling for their deportation. 

“People are frustrated,” Ulloa told the news outlet. “We barely fit and there are more people coming.” 

Hundreds of the caravan members held a peaceful sit-in a few hundred feet from the fence, Reuters reported.

Trump has seized on the migrant caravan with hostility, requesting the deployment of thousands of troops at the border and signing a proclamation that would prevent some of its members from claiming asylum.

It was not immediately clear if any of the more than 5,000 troops at the border were involved in the altercation on Sunday, Buzfeed News noted.

Some have accused Trump of invoking the caravan in order to stoke anti-immigrant and xenophobic fears among his base. He focused in on it ahead of Election Day in particular, calling the midterms the “election of the caravan” in order to encourage GOP voters to hit the polls.

Tags Kirstjen Nielsen

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