Wednesday 24 April 2019

US agents shoot tear gas at migrants on border

Children were heard screaming and coughing in the mayhem.

Migrants run towards the US after breaking past a line of Mexican police at the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana (Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Migrants run towards the US after breaking past a line of Mexican police at the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

By Christopher Sherman, Associated Press

Migrants approaching the US border from Mexico were enveloped with tear gas as a few tried to breach the fence separating the two countries.

US agents shot the gas, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene.

Children were screaming and coughing in the mayhem.

Honduran migrant Ana Zuniga, 23, said she saw migrants open a small hole in concertina wire at a gap on the Mexican side of a levee, at which point US agents fired tear gas at them.

“We ran but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” she told the AP while cradling her three-year-old daughter Valery in her arms.

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A migrant woman helps carry a handmade US flag up the riverbank at the Mexico-US. border after getting past Mexican police at the Chaparral crossing in Tijuana (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Mexico’s Milenio TV also showed images of several migrants at the border trying to jump over the fence.

Mexico’s Interior Ministry said around 500 migrants tried to “violently” enter the US.

The ministry said in a statement that it would immediately deport those people and would reinforce security.

As the chaos unfolded, shoppers just yards away on the US side streamed in and out of an outlet mall.

US Border Patrol helicopters flew overhead, while agents held vigil on foot beyond the wire fence in California.

The Border Patrol office in San Diego said via Twitter that pedestrian crossings have been suspended at the San Ysidro port of entry at both the east and west facilities.

All northbound and southbound traffic was halted.

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

“DHS (Department of Homeland Security) will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons,” she said.

Earlier on Sunday, some Central American migrants pushed past a blockade of Mexican police who were standing guard near the international border crossing.

They appeared to easily pass through without using violence and some of the migrants called on each other to remain peaceful.

A second line of Mexican police carrying plastic riot shields stood guard outside a Mexican customs and immigration plaza.

That line of police had installed tall steel panels behind them outside the Chaparral crossing on the Mexican side of the border.

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Five-year-old Rudy Pavon, of Honduras, plays with a ball at the Benito Juarez Sports Centre serving as a temporary shelter for Central American migrants in Tijuana (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

More than 5,000 migrants have been camped in and around a sports complex in Tijuana after making their way through Mexico in recent weeks via caravan.

Many hope to apply for asylum in the US but agents at the San Ysidro entry point are processing fewer than 100 asylum petitions a day.

Irineo Mujica, who has accompanied the migrants for weeks as part of the aid group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said the aim of Sunday’s march toward the Mexico-US border was to make the migrants’ plight more visible to both governments.

“We can’t have all these people here,” Mujica told The Associated Press.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum on Friday declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city of 1.6 million, which he says is struggling to accommodate the crush of migrants.

Press Association

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