The message for the migrant caravan was clear from marchers on Sunday in Tijuana, Mexico: We don’t want you here.
“We want the caravan to go; they are invading us,” said Patricia Reyes, a 62-year-old protester, hiding from the sun under an umbrella. “They should have come into Mexico correctly, legally, but they came in like animals.”
A few hundred Tijuanenses gathered in the city’s high-end Rio area to protest the groups migrating from Central American countries, according to NPR.
Carrying Mexican flags and singing the national anthem, the demonstrators marched to a sports complex where about 2,000 of the migrants are being housed. There, held back by a wall of riot police, they denounced the mostly Honduran migrants as “criminals” and “freeloaders” who were openly flouting Mexican law.
Demonstrators held signs reading “No illegals,” “No to the invasion” and “Mexico First.” Many wore the country’s red, white and green national soccer jersey and vigorously waved Mexican flags. The crowd often slipped into chants of “Ti-jua-na!” and “Me-xi-co!” They sang the national anthem several times.
The march is a foreboding sign for the migrants who have formed caravans to cross Mexico in hopes of reaching the United States. Many, but not all, of the migrants have come to Tijuana, which borders San Diego, to request asylum in the U.S. They come primarily from Honduras, though some are from other Central American countries.
Police kept the migrants inside the shelter to avoid conflict. The only sign of the march from inside was distant shouting and horns.
Some Tijuana officials, concerned about the city’s ability to accommodate thousands of newcomers, have called on the Mexican federal government to stop or divert migrants who are en route to the city, according to Daily Signal.
“Tijuana is a city of immigrants, but we don’t want them in this way,” Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum said in an interview with Milenio Television on Thursday. “It was different with the Haitians, they carried papers, they were in order. It wasn’t a horde, pardon the expression.”
“I would dare say that not all of them are migrants,” Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum said last week in an interview with Milenio television, suggesting some members of the caravan were criminal infiltrators. “Sure, there are some good people in the caravan, but many are very bad for the city.”
Gastélum said four alleged members of the caravan had been arrested for unspecified crimes.
The Tijuana city government is providing a stadium for the migrant shelter, as well as blankets, sleeping pads, food and some basic medical care. Nonprofit humanitarian groups are adding to that support.
But Gastélum says Tijuana lacks the funds to continue supporting the migrants, who he thinks will be in the city for more than six months to be processed through the U.S. asylum system, and has requested support from Mexico’s federal authorities.
The tensions are unlikely to die down soon: According to nonprofits at shelters in the border city Mexicali, 2,000 caravan members are expected to arrive in Tijuana in coming days. Another caravan of roughly 1,500 migrants is just north of Mexico City, according to a human rights commission that set up a shelter in the capital. Smaller contingents continue in southern Mexico.
Wait times to apply for asylum at U.S. ports of entry near Tijuana are expected to skyrocket in part because of tougher border security measures the Trump administration has implemented in recent weeks. Under a new executive order, anyone caught crossing the border illegally is ineligible for asylum protections, meaning asylum-seekers have to line up at ports of entry to have their claims heard.
Source: NPR & Daily Signal