San Diego, California, USA : The United States closed the San Ysirdro Point of Entry on the California-Mexico border Sunday, as thousands of migrants traveling in a caravan from Central America arrived. San Ysidro is a district of the City of San Diego, immediately north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The migrants were waiting to cross the border when U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced via loudspeaker that the port of entry was closed.
Pandemonium ensued, with many migrants storming through downtown Tijuana, looking for another way over the border. Thousands more people who were marching in support of the caravan added to the confusion in the crowds.
Mexican authorities were overwhelmed. U.S. Navy and CBP helicopters flew overhead.
One migrant reported tear gas being thrown by U.S. authorities; wisps of smoke were visible.
Marchers also demonstrated in support of the migrants on the U.S. side of the border, where all southbound lanes into Mexico were closed to vehicles and pedestrians, NBC San Diego reported.
Also waiting to cross the border were lawful travelers attempting to return home from the holiday weekend.
Many in the migrant caravan were parents and children.
The United States said earlier this month it would close northbound border crossings near Tijuana in advance of the caravan’s arrival and President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to close the borders.
Nearly 6,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to the Mexico border.
Mexico’s incoming government denied an official deal had been reached with the United States to hold asylum-seekers while their claims are processed in U.S. immigration courts.
Mexico’s incoming interior secretary, Olga Sánchez Cordero, said the new administration had no plans to make Mexico a “third secure country” and would instead focus on helping migrant groups access food, health, shelter and protection of their human rights, according to a statement.
“Mexico’s next federal administration does not consider within its plans that Mexico assume the condition of ‘third secure country’ for the attention of Central American migrants or citizens of other countries in Mexican territory or those who will have that intention in the future,” said Sánchez Cordero.
The statement followed a report earlier Saturday that Mexican officials and senior members of President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s transition team said the two countries had backed the deal.
Trump tweeted about the policy on Saturday, while also threatening to close the U.S.-Mexico border.
“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.,” he wrote. “All will stay in Mexico. If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border. There is no way that the United States will, after decades of abuse, put up with this costly and dangerous situation anymore!”
Saturday’s border threat came after Trump made a similar declaration on Thursday where he brought up the possibility of closing off entry into the United States.
“If we find that it gets to a level where we’re going to lose control or people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control,” Trump said after a teleconference call with members of the U.S. armed forces on Thanksgiving. “You take a look at Tijuana, Mexico and you see what’s happening there? It’s a bad situation.”
Trump again discussed the issue of so-called migrant caravans crossing the border, as the president, first lady Melania Trump and his son Barron before traveling from Mar-A-Lago back to the White House on Sunday afternoon, calling for Mexico to do more to stop the groups before they near the U.S. border.
“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). Dems created this problem. No crossings!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
On Monday, Trump will depart for Mississippi where he will hold rallies in Gulfport and Tupelo for U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith as she faces off in a special election runoff against Democrat Mike Espy.
“She is an outstanding person who is strong on the Border, Crime, Military, our great Vets, Healthcare & the 2nd A. Needed in D.C.,” Trump wrote.
Trump also took aim at protests in France that began as a rally against rising diesel prices, but later took on an expression of wider displeasure with French President Emmanuel Macron’s government.
“The large and violent French protests don’t take into account how badly the United States has been treated on Trade by the European Union or on fair and reasonable payments for our GREAT military protection. Both of these topics must be remedied soon,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Image : A migrant family, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America to the U.S., run from tear gas in front of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico at Tijuana on Sunday