Tue, Nov 27, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US fires tear gas at migrants, Mexico to step up security

AP, TIJUANA, Mexico

Mexico pledged to shore up security near its border with the US and local authorities said that 39 migrants were arrested after a peaceful march devolved into chaos when US agents fired tear gas into Mexico to stop some migrants who tried to breach the border.

The Mexican Ministry of the Interior on Sunday said that it would immediately deport those who tried to “violently” enter the US from Tijuana.

Meanwhile, Tijuana’s municipal government said that more than three dozen migrants were arrested for disturbing the peace and other charges stemming from the march and what followed.

The vast majority of the more than 5,000 Central American migrants camped out for more than a week at a sports complex in Tijuana returned to their makeshift shelter to line up for food and recuperate from an unsettling afternoon.

Lurbin Sarmiento, 26, of Copan, Honduras, walked back to the sports complex with her four-year-old daughter shaken from what had unfolded a short time earlier at the Tijuana River and US border.

She had been at the bottom of the river — a concrete riverbed conveying a trickle of water — near the border with her daughter when US agents fired tear gas.

“We ran, but the smoke always reached us and my daughter was choking,” Sarmiento said.

She said she never would have gotten that close with her daughter if she thought there would be gas.

The gas reached hundreds of migrants protesting near the border after some of them attempted to get through the fencing and wire separating the two nations.

US authorities shut down the nation’s busiest border crossing at San Ysidro, California, for several hours at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.

The situation devolved after the group began a peaceful march to appeal for the US to speed processing of asylum claims for Central American migrants marooned in Tijuana.

Mexican police had kept them from walking over a bridge leading to the Mexican port of entry, but the migrants pushed past officers to walk across the Tijuana River below the bridge.

More police carrying plastic riot shields were on the other side, but migrants walked along the river to an area where only an earthen levee and concertina wire separated them from US Border Patrol agents.

Some saw an opportunity to breach the crossing. An Associated Press reporter saw US agents shoot several rounds of tear gas after some migrants attempted to penetrate several points along the border.

Throughout the day, US Customs and Border Protection helicopters flew overhead, while US agents on foot watched beyond the wire fence in California.

The Border Patrol office in San Diego said via Twitter that pedestrian crossings were suspended at the San Ysidro port of entry at the East and West facilities. All northbound and southbound traffic was halted for several hours.

Every day more than 100,000 people enter the US there.

US Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that US authorities would continue to have a “robust” presence along the southwest border and that they would prosecute anyone who damages federal property or violates US sovereignty.

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