TIJUANA, Mexico — In a matter of minutes, the trickling stream inside the banks of the Tijuana River turned into anrushing towards the border. The crowds were met by a force of Mexican police, who were armed and wearing riot gear.
were fired by U.S. Border Patrol agents on Sunday after they said a group threw projectiles at them. Sixty-nine migrants were arrested.
The crowds are gone Monday but security is still a top priority. Agents said migrants try to cut through constantan wire with tools and jump over it with carpet.
As he left for, President Trump refused to waiver on his immigration policies. “Here’s the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come here legally,” he said.
Flanked in full riot gear and armed, Mexican federal police on Sunday used force to keep migrants away from the border. On Monday, they stand ready to push back again, just outside a shelter where nearly 6,000 migrants sit and wait. Nearly 2,000 have signed up to voluntarily return home in the past month.
Karina Gutierrez, a mother of three from Honduras, arrived at the shelter two weeks ago. She knows her chances of getting into the U.S. are dwindling, but said, “I won’t return to my country. I can’t,” she said.
Estella, a woman from Honduras, said she was shocked to see the response at the border. She said they were surprised by the tear gas and explosions.
The conditions inside one Tijuana shelter are quickly deteriorating. There are some families in tents, but others are just on the ground, penned up with a wire fence. A Tijuana official said Monday that things will get worse if the migrants don’t get help from the federal government.
TIJUANA, Mexico — U.S. border agents fired tear gas on hundreds of migrants protesting near the border with Mexico on Sunday after some of them attempted to get through the fencing and wire separating the two countries, and American authorities temporarily shut down border crossings from the city where thousands are waiting to apply for asylum.
BBC News correspondent Will Grant reported on CBSN that some protesters crossed a footbridge over a canal in Tijuana and ran toward the border. More than 5,000 migrants have been camped in and around a sports complex in the city after making their way throughin recent weeks via caravan.
After a few migrants tried to breach the fence separating the two countries, they were enveloped with tear gas. U.S. agents shot the gas, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Migrants sought to squeeze through gaps in the wire, climb over fences and peel back metal sheeting to enter.
The Mexican government described Sunday’s events as “acts of provocation” that were “far from helpful” for the migrants’ objectives.
Children screamed and coughed in the mayhem of the tear gas. Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away, not attempting to enter the U.S. Yards away on the U.S. side, shoppers streamed in and out of an outlet mall.
Honduran migrant Ana Zuniga, 23, said she saw migrants open a small hole in concertina wire at a gap on the Mexican side of a levee, at which point U.S. agents fired tear gas at them.
“We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” she told the AP while cradling her 3-year-old daughter Valery in her arms. Mexico’s Milenio TV also showed images of several migrants at the border trying to jump over the fence.
Sunday evening, the Mexican Interior Ministry has said it would immediately deport Central American migrants who tried to “violently” breach the border and it would reinforce the border.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said U.S. authorities will continue to have a “robust” presence along the Southwest border and they will prosecute anyone who damages federal property or violates U.S. sovereignty.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopters flew overhead, while U.S. agents held vigil on foot beyond the wire fence in California. The Border Patrol office in San Diego said via Twitter that pedestrian crossings have been suspended at the San Ysidro port of entry at both the East and West facilities. All northbound and southbound traffic was halted.
Many migrants hope to apply for asylum in the U.S., but agents at the San Ysidro entry point are processing fewer than 100 asylum petitions a day. Some of the migrants who went forward Sunday called on each other to remain peaceful.
Earlier Sunday, they appeared to easily pass through the Mexican police blockade without using violence. A second line of Mexican police carrying plastic riot shields stood guard outside a Mexican customs and immigration plaza, where the migrants were headed.
That line of police installed tall steel panels behind them outside the Chaparral crossing on the Mexican side of the border, which completely blocked incoming traffic lanes to Mexico.
They carried hand-painted American and Honduran flags while chanting: “We are not criminals! We are international workers!”
Migrants were asked by police to turn back toward Mexico.
Irineo Mujica, who has accompanied the migrants for weeks as part of the aid group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said the aim of Sunday’s march toward the U.S. border was to make the migrants’ plight more visible to the governments of Mexico and the U.S.
“We can’t have all these people here,” Mujica told The Associated Press. Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastlum on Friday declared ain his border city of 1.6 million, which he said is struggling to accommodate the crush of migrants.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday to express his displeasure with the caravans in Mexico.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Sunday the country has sent 11,000 Central Americans back to their countries of origin since Oct. 19. It said that 1,906 of them were members of the recent caravans.
Mexico is on track to send a total of around 100,000 Central Americans back home by the end of this year.