The San Ysidro Port of Entry was shut down in both directions for 5 hours after hundreds of migrants camping in Tijuana broke through the primary border fence and tried to get through the secondary fence.
Members of the Central American Caravan began a peaceful march Sunday morning from their temporary shelter at the Benito Juarez sports complex to the El Chaparral pedestrian border crossing gate. Along the way the group was stopped by Mexican Federal Police. The encounter turned violent injuring at least one officer. The group broke through the officer’s skirmish line and made its way to the Tijuana River Channel.
U-S Border Patrol spokesperson, Mary Beth Caston, said the group crossed the riverbed and approached a border patrol agent about an 1/8 of a mile north of the border, and just west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Caston said the crowd ignored the agent’s commands and, to protect himself, he fired pepper balls.
The agent called for backup and as the group advanced the migrants threw rocks and bottles at the agents. Caston said agents deployed “intermediate use-of-force devices” to push back the group. The agents also contacted Mexican law enforcement.
Caston said no shots were fired and no one was seriously injured. But, in Tijuana some migrants say the tear gas canisters and other projectiles seriously injured a lot of people. Local reports say an infant may have been taken to a hospital for ingesting tear gas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials closed all vehicle and pedestrian crossings around 11:30 a.m. By 3:45 p.m. the pedestrian gates were reopened with the vehicle lanes opened by 5 p.m.
The San Ysidro Port of Entry is one of the busiest in the world, with more than 90,000 people crossing between San Diego and Tijuana on a daily basis. One report said traffic was backed up for more than 8 miles on the U-S side.
WOMAN IMPALES HERSELF AFTER FALLING FROM BORDER FENCE
The border patrol says it helped a woman who injured herself while climbing over the border fence. Border patrol officials say on Friday night at 8:25 p.m. agents responded 1 mile east of the San Ysidro Port of Entry and found the woman had fallen from the border wall after she climbed over it to illegally enter the country. The woman landed on rebar that pierced her side and buttocks.
Agents say the 26-year-old woman is from Guatemala. She was accompanied by her two children; a three-year-old and a five-year-old. Both children were also taken to a hospital for evaluation of potential fall trauma. They were later released back into Border Patrol custody. It’s not known if the woman was part of the Central American Caravan.
San Diego Sector Chief Rodney Scott said, “Entering our country illegally, particularly over our walls is not only dangerous, but also very foolish. This woman placed her own life and her children’s lives in peril. She could have easily died if not for the quick response by our agents and EMS.”
This area is an active construction site as 14-miles of wall are being installed to replace the decades old metal landing mat wall.
THE BLAME GAME
Various stakeholders immediately responded to the incident on Sunday morning. Caravan organizers quickly stated they had no knowledge of plans to rush the border fence, but it wasn’t a surprise given the frustration the migrants feel over delays in the U-S asylum process. President Trump again blamed the Central American caravan, and all the related issues, on the Democrats.
Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar told ABC News that, “The President has gut-punched us on immigration a number of times. We have the will to put the money at the border for better security and combine it with some sensible reforms, including things like a path to citizenship, things like making sure that we have workers on our fields and in our factories that we need. But he has chosen instead to weaponize this.”
Pro-migrant activists held a rally in San Diego Sunday and said it was an atrocity that President Trump is spending taxpayer dollars on military at the border instead of immigration attorneys and judges to help speed up the asylum process.
The migrants themselves chanted at the border that they are not criminals but international workers. They told local media in Tijuana that they just want a better life and fear the recent actions of a few bad apples will ruin their chances of getting asylum in the United States. It is estimated that more than 5,200 migrants from Central America are waiting in Tijuana for their chance to claim asylum at the U-S Customs border gate.
Credits: Pictures, CBP and Caravan Organizers – Video: Caravan Organizers