US Customs and Border Protection temporarily put a halt to all vehicular and suspended pedestrian traffic at the country’s biggest border crossing with Mexico. The San Ysidro port of entry between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California was a scene of chaos on Sunday.
The US border agency announced the closures on Twitter as multiple groups made up of hundreds of asylum seekers marched towards the border in an attempt to put pressure on the US government to allow them into the United States.
The day began with protests as up to five thousand asylum seekers are waiting along Mexico’s border to be processed for asylum claims. The protesters then broke up into multiple groups and began ascending the banks of the Tijuana River near the border fence along the U.S.
The crowds were made up of men, women and children as they attempted to rush the fence near the border crossing. US authorities resorted to using tear gas on the crowd that approached the border fence near the Chaparral crossing. According to local media reports, a small group managed to breach the border.
US Customs and Border Protection has shut down a major port of entry in San Diego as about 500 migrants rush the southern border near Tijuana, Mexico https://t.co/NfFzDz8GBj pic.twitter.com/BLOsJvCs13
— CNN (@CNN) November 25, 2018
Some attempted to enter through San Ysidro, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement.
"After being prevented from entering the port of entry, some of these migrants attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them," Nielsen said.
"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."
— Oliver McGee PhD MBA (@OliverMcGee) November 25, 2018
Rights groups have accused the US government of stalling the processing of asylum claims, allegations the Trump administration denies. Meanwhile, protests are brewing in the city of Tijuana against hosting the asylum seekers as they have overwhelmed the city’s resources. Tijuana’s mayor has called on Mexico’s central government to provide it with funds to help host the asylum seekers who have been put up in the city’s football stadium.
US President Donald Trump has announced that the asylum seekers will remain in Mexico until their claims are processed but the incoming Mexico government has denied the two countries have reached any such deal.