WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Around 500 Migrants at the Mexican border attempted to gain entry to the U.S. through the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Sunday afternoon.
- The incident threatened the safety of US Customs and Border Protection personnel, prompting them to fire tear gas at the group.
- U.S. authorities emphasized that this “lawlessness” will not be tolerated and ports of entry will be shut down for security and safety reasons.
What was expected to be a peaceful march to the San Diego US-Mexico border on Sunday escalated into a fracas between migrants and US Border Patrol agents; causing the latter to fire tear gas to dispel the group.
Journalists relayed to CNN that police blockades close to the San Ysidro Port of Entry have been put at risk when around 500 migrants on the Mexican border attempted to gain entry to the U.S. on Sunday afternoon.
According to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, a few migrants “attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them.”
The US Customs and Border Protection released a statement on Twitter saying that “Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas to dispel the group because of the risk to agents’ safety.”
Families and young children were caught on tape running from the cloud of tear gas released by authorities. San Ysidro Port of Entry crossing was temporarily made unavailable for vehicle and pedestrian use for a few hours due to the riot but has since been reopened by the CBP.
Nielsen added that “DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons. We will also seek to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who destroys federal property, endangers our front-line operators, or violates our nation’s sovereignty.”
The incident was clearly a manifestation of the mounting tension in Tijuana as Central American migrants arrived a few weeks ago in an effort to try to cross the border to enter the US.
According to Mexico’s Interior Ministry, those who illegally cross the border will face deportation, and emphasized that both local and federal authorities prevented the migrants from illegally crossing the border on Sunday. The ministry stated that the incident is an “act of provocation”. By Sunday night, 39 people have so far been arrested by Tijuana police.
On Sunday, Tijuana mayor, Juan Manuel Gastélum Buenrostro, expressed on Twitter that he will not allow the migrants’ actions disrupt Tijuana’s relationship with the neighboring cities across the border. Border closures would also affect Tijuana residents who visit the United States.
The mayor has since sought aid from his secretary of domestic affairs and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.