Homeland Security shut down incoming traffic at the country's busiest land-border crossing in order to harden the port of entry, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday.
As more migrants from several Central American caravans arrive at the Mexican border city of Tijuana, some local residents are protesting their presence, echoing language used by President Trump, referring to the migrants as an "invasion" and chanting "Mexico First". "The only thing we can do is hope that President (Donald) Trump opens his heart a little", said Coronel.
Another migrant caravan of around 150 people reportedly set off from El Salvador for the USA on Sunday.
"We are fleeing violence", said Josue Caseres, an entertainer from Santa Barbara, Honduras.
"I was very scared", Alvarado said. The protest eventually ended peacefully. At the rate the requests are being processed, asylum-seekers will wait months in Tijuana knowing many locals don't want them here.
Mexico's ambassador to the U.S., Geronimo Gutierrez, told reporters Monday that the situation is a "wake-up call" for the U.S., Mexico and Central America that could force the region to work together to address the hard issue of immigration. She added that caravan migrants had assaulted "border police in multiple countries", even using "incendiary devices", though she provided no evidence.
"There's too many people", said protester Josefina Arangure. He fears the USA won't grant him asylum, and that he'll get deported if he tries to cross into the country without authorization.
In interviews with the New York Times, troops deployed to the border described days of building barbed-wire fences and trying to scrounge together amenities to make their makeshift bases more livable.
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Haitian Chilo Semaco, 36, said Mexico has been "more or less" welcoming to the Haitian immigrants. "We have to help the neediest ones".
"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. "Honduras is worse off than Mexico".
"Unfortunately, some members of the caravan are purposely causing disruptions at our border ports of entry".
But the lane closures have also made it harder for cross-border residents to go back and forth into the U.S.to work and shop. Half of the pedestrian crossings as well as the northbound traffic were closed at the San Ysidro border point.
The barriers are an apparent precaution against fears that a large number of people may try to rush the border to get into the U.S. We have deployed additional forces to protect our border.
Earlier this month, the administration issued a new rule, and President Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation meant to bar most migrants who cross into the USA illegally over the southern border from seeking asylum.
By contrast, Gastelum said, the caravan of Central Americans, "had arrived all of sudden, with a lot of people - not all. but a lot - were aggressive and cocky". He said the Haitians found jobs and "inserted themselves in the city's economy" and had not been involved in any disturbances. Unable to reach the migrants, they shouted at the collection of men, women and children inside.
"Because of those Hondurans, we are paying the price".