Washington D.C., USA : U.S. President Donald Trump offered Mexico some advice on deporting migrants massed in Tijuana and threatening to storm the U.S., telling the neighboring nation in a tweet to send them “back to their countries” by plane or by bus – or face a permanent closure of the border.
Trump’s tweet followed a vow from Mexico to deport migrants who tried to illegally enter the U.S. The Trump administration has said asylum claims from members of a series of caravans originating in Central America must be processed outside the U.S., and that all those entering illegally will be denied. A federal judge has at least temporarily ruled against the policy, but the administration has taken steps to harden the border.
“Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries,” Trump tweeted early Monday morning. “Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”
The missive came after a chaotic Sunday that saw hundreds of migrants from a caravan that originated in Central American pushing past Mexican riot police and rushing the border at the port of entry in San Ysidro, Calif., in a major test for both U.S. border authorities and Mexican officials.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it suspended northbound and southbound crossings for both pedestrians and vehicles at the San Ysidro port of entry at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time. It later tweeted that the pedestrian crossings had re-opened, a little more than four hours after the initial closure. The vehicle lanes re-opened at approximately 5 p.m. local time, five-and-a-half hours after they were closed.
CBP added that some demonstrators “attempted to illegally enter the U.S. through both the northbound and southbound vehicle lanes at the port of entry itself. Those persons were stopped and turned back to Mexico.”
U.S. border agents shot several rounds of tear gas after some migrants attempted to penetrate various points along the border and threw what appeared to be rocks at U.S. authorities.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that some migrants “attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them.
“As I have continually stated, DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons,” Nielsen said. “We will also seek to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who destroys federal property, endangers our frontline operators, or violates our nation’s sovereignty.”
The Mexican Interior Ministry said Sunday it would immediately deport the migrants who tried to “violently” breach the border. The Mexican government described Sunday’s events as “acts of provocation” that were “far from helpful” for the migrants’ objectives.
The situation Sunday was not unprecedented. In 2013, during the Obama administration, Border Patrol agents used pepper spray to fend off a crowd of approximately 100 migrants who attempted to rush the San Ysidro port of entry. The migrants in that episode also reportedly threw rocks and bottles at U.S. authorities.
Within an hour on Sunday, the group from the caravan that rushed toward the border largely dispersed. Most of the migrants in the group were men.
The prospective deal between the U.S. and Mexico was seen as a way to dissuade thousands of Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S., a process that can take years. The legal bar for claiming asylum is high and generally requires applicants to show a specific risk of persecution based on factors such as race, nationality, politics or religion.
Trump administration officials have characterized the vast majority of asylum claims as fraudulent or legally insufficient, and have taken steps to reduce the backlog of asylum claims that they say are often used by migrants to gain entry into the U.S. and disappear into the country as their claims are adjudicated.
EARLIER : San Diego Port of Entry Closed As Migrant Caravan Reaches California
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