Migrant caravan members who reached a USA border crossing near San Diego were met with an icy reception in Tijuana this weekend, and the group is waking up Monday with the realization they could be stuck on that unwelcoming side of the fence for months if they try to enter America the legal way.
Many said they have no intention of breaking the law, but were feeling pressure after anti-migrant protests in this Mexican border city and claims by Trump and the Tijuana mayor that the caravan harbors gang members and criminals, something they strongly deny. Tijuana, itself a city of immigrants, was roiled by a demonstration on Sunday against the new arrivals, who have been lodged in a recreation centre near the border.
United States troops at the southern border - deployed by President Trump before the midterms to deter what he called "an invasion" of asylum-seeking migrants - are heading home and should be reunited with their families by Christmas. The civil defense department of Jalisco state, where migrants pass on their way to Tijuana, said it would no longer provide shelters for migrants, citing problems with fights among migrants at a shelter last week. Since arriving in Tijuana two years ago, Semaco has found work selling aprons to people crossing the border in their cars.
Some of the largely Honduran migrants were frightened when about 500 people in an affluent district of Tijuana staged angry protests Sunday against the caravan. The announcement was made when the caravan was reaching Mexico. It's one of Mexico's main border towns.
U.S. Military stand in line for a drill near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, Calif., on November 15, 2018.
"If CBP have reliable information that one of their ports is about to get rushed with a mob, or something like that that could put their agents at risk, they could ask us to completely close the port", he said. Hundreds of them arrived by bus, flooding the city's crowded shelters.
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"Some of them are a bunch of bums, smoking marijuana in the street, and attacking our families in Playas de Tijuana", the mayor said last week, on Mexican television. An additional 1,500 migrants plan to reach the USA border region next week.
It also caused a massive traffic backup for USA citizens trying to get back home after visiting Mexico.
But Tijuana police officer Victor Coronel, who has overseen security outside the sports complex where the migrants are staying, said those fears are based on the bad behavior of only a handful of migrants. This is Honduran migrant Karina Rosales, addressing the recent protests.
The Army might shift some of its troops along the border to California where caravans of migrants seeking asylum have gathered in Tijuana, Mexico across the border from San Diego, but clarified that no timelines have been determined for the possibility that some troops could leave the border ahead of the mission's scheduled end on December 15.
"CBP has been and will continue to prepare for the potential arrival of thousands of people migrating in a caravan heading towards the border of the United States", said Pete Flores, director of field operations in San Diego, in a statement.
While the Mexican government has taken an accommodating stance toward the caravan, some of its residents are fed up. "Yes, because it is all a BIG CON, and the American taxpayer is paying for it", Trump said in a pair of tweets.