Migrant Caravan Cost $6.3 Million in One Day, Won’t Get City Funds Anymore: Tijuana Mayor

By Zachary Stieber

The thousands of migrants living in Tijuana have cost the city millions of dollars and won’t get any more funds from the government, the mayor said.

“I’m not going to break public services to solve this problem,” Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum told Fox News on Nov. 30.

The declaration came as Gastélum repeatedly issued warnings in recent days that the city was suffering from the financial burden of supporting the migrants, who have clashed with locals and overwhelmed the city, crowding sidewalks, leaving litter, and struggling to subsist as they plan their next move.

The migrants violently rushed the United States border on Nov. 25, triggering a crackdown by American and Mexican officials that included around 100 migrants being deported and an hourslong shutdown of the busiest port of entry in the Western Hemisphere.

“In those six hours that the border was closed, we lost approximately 129 million pesos ($6.3 million),” Gastélum said. “That’s not fair. How do you think people from Tijuana feel towards those people who are making problems?”

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The San Ysidro vehicle lanes sit empty as U.S. Customs and Border Protection closes the border for around six hours after migrants rushed at the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 25, 2018. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Some 13.7 million personal vehicles crossed through the San Ysidro Port of Entry in 2017, according to the Department of Transportation.

Tijuana officials said previously that the migrants were costing the city $30,000 a day.

Nationwide, more than 70 percent of Mexicans have a negative view about the migrants and 55 percent supported tougher measures on future caravans, according to a poll released last week by El Universal. In addition, 52 percent of respondents said the migrants should be blocked from entering Mexico without legal documents.

The migrant caravans all forced their way from Guatemala into Mexico, leaving police officers on both sides of the border injured. The projectiles they hurled at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday also struck multiple U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and thier vehicles.

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Mexicans protest the migrant caravan from Central America as riot police keep them away from the migrant encampment in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 18, 2018. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Organizers Should be Charged

Tijuana’s mayor blamed the organizers of the caravans and said they should face criminal charges.

“Those are the real criminals because they’re dealing with the lives of people,” he said.

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador must deal with the problem immediately after taking office on Saturday as Mexico’s new president, the mayor added.

“Bad people, not the good people, some of them, not all of them, came in … walking disorderly, trying to cross the border without [the United States’] permission. I mean, that’s a criminal way of doing things,” Mayor Gastélum told NBC 7.

Gastélum said that leaders among the caravan were distributing flyers to try to organize another border rush on Dec. 1. A Department of Homeland Security source said that United States officials are aware of the planned rush. On Nov. 24, migrants spoke of a force of 20,000 migrants rushing the border and trying to overwhelm American law enforcement officers.

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Migrants break through the U.S. border fence just beyond the east pedestrian entrance of the San Ysidro crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 25, 2018. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), an open-borders group, is among the groups present in Tijuana, although leaders have claimed they didn’t have a role in organizing the caravans. A month ago, Vice President Mike Pence said intelligence from foreign partners pointed to leftist groups behind the caravans.

Col. Fred Peterson, former chief public affairs officer of Joint Task Force North, the Defense Department’s counter-drug and anti-terrorist operation, told The Epoch Times that the organizers are trying to weaken the Trump administration and the United States.

“This is a very well-funded operation,” he said. “It’s not spontaneous at all.” The migrants themselves are being exploited for political purposes, he said. “They’re just props in a political, staged play.”