Monday 23 September 2019

US agents fire tear gas as migrants reach border

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America en route to the United States, climb a wall to evade police and reach the border wall between the U.S and Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Reuters
Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America en route to the United States, climb a wall to evade police and reach the border wall between the U.S and Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Reuters

Lisbeth Diaz

The United States closed its busiest border crossing with Mexico after Mexican police broke up a protest of Central American migrants massed in Tijuana, and US officers fired tear gas at them.

Traffic in both directions was suspended at the San Ysidro port of entry between San Diego and Tijuana.

US President Donald Trump has raised alarms about a caravan of Central American migrants as it approached the US, with its members planning to apply for asylum on reaching the border.

Tensions on the border had been rising in recent days, with thousands of migrants camped out in a sports stadium in Tijuana and hundreds periodically gathering near the main border crossing. The migrants have said they would wait there until they could request asylum, despite growing US measures to tighten the border.

Yesterday, hundreds of caravan members, including women and children, were peacefully protesting when they were stopped by Mexican authorities, who told them to wait for permission.

As the morning wore on, and it became clear they would not get permission, people started to express frustration.

A small group broke off and headed a few hundred metres away to a part of a canal between Tijuana and San Diego that led to the border fence.

At that point, before the group had reached the border, US Customs and Border Protest officers who had gathered on the other side of the fence launched canisters of tear gas at them.

Protesters were caught between the Mexican and US authorities. A young woman fell to the ground unconscious, and two babies cried, tears streaming from the gas.

Later, immigrants again approached the border in groups and were met by a further volley of canisters emitting large clouds of gas.

Irish Independent

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