Trump threatens to close Mexico border

Donald Trump has threatened to close the border between Mexico and the US "permanently" unless Mexico sends asylum-seekers - many of whom he described as "stone cold criminals" - back to where they came from.

"Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries. Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the USA," the US President said in a tweet.

Migrants run from tear gas launched by US agents, amid photojournalists covering the Mexico-US border, after a group of migrants got past Mexican police at the Chaparral crossing in Tijuana, Mexico.
Migrants run from tear gas launched by US agents, amid photojournalists covering the Mexico-US border, after a group of migrants got past Mexican police at the Chaparral crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. Rodrigo Abd

"We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!" he added.

Mr Trump's latest threat to seal off the border comes a day after US Border Patrol agents fired tear gas at Central American migrants who tried to storm through a border fence at the San Ysidro crossing that links San Diego with Tijuana, Mexico, reports the New York Post.

Migrants were tear-gassed by US agents as the border crossing was closed. Picture: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa
Migrants were tear-gassed by US agents as the border crossing was closed. Picture: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

Authorities temporarily closed the port of entry "to ensure public safety" after some of the migrants threw "projectiles" at agents as they bore down on the fence, officials said.

"Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas to dispel the group because of the risk to agents' safety," the agency said on Twitter.

On Sunday, Mexico promised to shore up security along the border and the country's Interior Ministry said it would immediately deport those who tried to "violently" enter the US from Tijuana.

More than three dozen migrants were arrested for disturbing the peace and other charges after the chaotic scene Sunday.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said US authorities will continue to have a "robust" presence along the Southwest border and that anyone who damages federal property or violates American sovereignty would be prosecuted.

Migrants push past Mexican police at the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. Picture: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa
Migrants push past Mexican police at the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. Picture: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

"DHS 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.

More than 5,000 migrants have been camped in and around a sports complex in Tijuana after arriving via caravan in hopes of applying for asylum in the US.

Mr Trump also took to Twitter on the weekend to express his displeasure with the caravans.

"Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border, or if originating countries would not let them form (it is a way they get certain people out of their country and dump in U.S. No longer)," he wrote.

"Dems created this problem. No crossings!"

Migrants from Central America climb a steep embankment in Tijuana, Mexico, toward the U.S. border checkpoint.
Migrants from Central America climb a steep embankment in Tijuana, Mexico, toward the U.S. border checkpoint. Kyodo via AP

MEXICO TO UP SECURITY AT BORDER

It comes as Mexico pledged to shore up security near its border with the United States and local authorities said that 39 migrants were arrested after a peaceful march devolved into chaos when US agents fired tear gas into Mexico to stop some migrants who tried to breach the border.

Mexico's Interior Ministry said it would immediately deport those who tried to "violently" enter the US from Tijuana.

Meanwhile, Tijuana's municipal government said that more than three-dozen migrants were arrested for disturbing the peace and other charges stemming from the march and what followed.

The vast majority of the more than 5000 Central American migrants camped out for more than a week at a sports complex in Tijuana returned to their makeshift shelter to line up for food and recuperate from an unsettling afternoon.

A group of migrants gather at the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico
A group of migrants gather at the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico Rodrigo Abd/AP

 

Lurbin Sarmiento, 26, of Copan, Honduras, walked back to the sports complex with her four-year-old daughter shaken from what had unfolded a short time earlier at the Tijuana River and US border.

She had been at the bottom of a concrete riverbed conveying a trickle of water, near the border with her daughter when US agents fired tear gas. "We ran, but the smoke always reached us and my daughter was choking," Ms Sarmiento said.

She said she never would have gotten that close with her daughter if she thought there would be gas.

The gas reached hundreds of migrants protesting near the border after some of them attempted to get through the fencing and wire separating the two countries.

Migrants stand near Mexican police at the Mexico-U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico as they try to reach the US. The mayor of Tijuana has declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city and says that he has asked the United Nations for aid to deal with about 5000 Central American migrants who have arrived in the city.
Migrants stand near Mexican police at the Mexico-U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico as they try to reach the US. The mayor of Tijuana has declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city and says that he has asked the United Nations for aid to deal with about 5000 Central American migrants who have arrived in the city. Rodrigo Abd/AP

 

An Associated Press reporter saw US agents shoot several rounds of tear gas after some migrants attempted to penetrate several points along the border.

Mexico's Milenio TV showed images of migrants climbing over fences and peeling back metal sheeting to enter.

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

Children screamed and coughed. Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away.

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

Mexican police run as they try to keep migrants from getting past the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, near San Ysidro, California.
Mexican police run as they try to keep migrants from getting past the Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, near San Ysidro, California. Ramon Espinosa/AP

Mexico's Interior Ministry said the country has sent 11,000 Central Americans back to their countries of origin since Oct. 19, when the first caravan entered the country. It said that 1,906 of those who have returned were members of the recent caravans.

Mexico is on track to send a total of around 100,000 Central Americans back home by the end of this year.

Migrants try to push past Mexican police on the Mexico-US border at the Chaparral crossing in Tijuana, Mexico.
Migrants try to push past Mexican police on the Mexico-US border at the Chaparral crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. Rodrigo Abd/AP

 

This story first appeared in the New York Post and is republished with permission.



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