A small faction of the 6,000-plus migrants now in Tijuana pushed their way within 500 feet of the southern United States on Nov. 22, while armed Mexican federal police formed a barrier and prevented them from getting closer.
The small group of about 150 migrants carried white flags as they departed a migrant camp and walked about five city blocks to reach the foot of the United States pedestrian bridge.
The push came as an immigrant advocacy group claimed that thousands of migrants were planning to rush the border. Days earlier, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that American officials had received word of an impending rush. As a result, officials closed the San Ysidro Port of Entry to place concertina wire and other obstacles in preparation.
The migrants are part of the large group camped out at an open-air sports arena that local authorities have turned into a temporary shelter. Thousands of migrants have poured into the city and overwhelmed normal assistance centers, prompting city officials to declare a humanitarian crisis.
“There are sick children here, and we are cold and hungry,” Carlos Lopez, a Honduran who was leading the group, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “The whole world is watching what is happening here.”
Lopez used a bullhorn to gather migrants before they trekked close to the border.
“Today is a good day to present ourselves to the United States,” Lopez said in Spanish. “It’s Thanksgiving Day. In the United States, today is a vacation day.”
Migrants Rejected Asylum
But Mexican federal police blocked the migrants from progressing along the pedestrian bridge, which is not used to process migrants claiming asylum, and watched as authorities with the National Human Rights Commission and the Grupo Beta migrant support agency urged the migrants to apply for workers visas in Mexico, reported the Associated Press. The United States government has been processing 100 applications for asylum a day at the San Ysidro Port of Entry pedestrian entrances.
The migrants were offered asylum by Mexico, including jobs, education, and healthcare, but most have rejected the offer, claiming they have to reach the United States.
The migrants are complaining about conditions in Tijuana as residents there have been protesting against the migrants.
“Don’t get it twisted—this is an invasion,” one local, Guadalupe Arangure, told The Epoch Times. “Once you cross the borders, once you went through those borders with violence it became an invasion.”
Criminals and Gang Members
The migrants include hundreds of known criminals and gang members, according to authorities in Mexico and the United States. Angel Mejia, 27, admitted to the Union-Tribune that he is a criminal but claimed that the crimes he committed were a long time ago.
“When I was young, 15-years-old or so, I made mistakes like a lot of kids. But, I’ve turned my life around and given it to God,” he said.
The criminal elements among the caravans have concerned locals and officials, while the lack of identification among them has contributed to fear of what could happen, especially to women and children.
“We have no idea who they are. Also, we have a lot of poverty here in Mexico already. We’ve been working hard, fighting every day to have a better life, to have a better quality of life, to have more jobs … and we don’t feel it’s fair that our government is allowing these people to come in and giving them benefits we don’t even have as Mexicans,” said Paloma Zuniga, a dual Mexican-American citizen.