Dozens of migrants get arrested on both sides of the US-Mexico border

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 11/26/2018, 12:46 p.m.
They've spent weeks trekking across Mexico, trying to reach the United States. But dozens of migrants will be deported and ...
A migrant family runs from tear gas released by US border patrol agents near the fence between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego.

By Emanuella Grinberg, Mariano Castillo and Susannah Cullinane, CNN

(CNN) -- They've spent weeks trekking across Mexico, trying to reach the United States. But dozens of migrants will be deported and will never touch US soil, Mexican authorities said.

About 500 migrants on the Mexican side of the border overwhelmed police blockades near the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Sunday, two journalists in Tijuana told CNN. That forced a temporary closure of the major border crossing into San Diego.

Tijuana police said they arrested 39 people Sunday in connection with the attempt to cross the border illegally. Those identified as trying to rush the US border illegally will be processed for deportation in their home countries, Mexico's Interior Ministry said.

On the US side, 69 people were arrested entering illegally, US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Monday.

US President Donald Trump threatened to close the border "permanently if need be." He also claimed many of the migrants are "stone cold criminals," but gave zero evidence to support that claim.

"Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries," Trump tweeted Monday. "Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!

Projectiles and tear gas

As the migrants tried to cross the border, authorities on the US side used tear gas to disperse them, the journalists said. Video of the scene showed a cloud of tear gas that sent people running and screaming, including families with young children.

US Customs and Border Protection said the migrants threw projectiles that struck several agents.

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

The incident marked an escalation of tensions that have been mounting since groups of Central American migrants began arriving in Tijuana a few weeks ago on their journey to attempt entry into the United States.

The migrants' presence has drawn demonstrators -- for and against them -- and threats from Trump to close the US-Mexico border. Meanwhile, Tijuana's mayor has called on the Mexican government and the international community for help.

The melee closed one of the world's busiest international crossings, San Ysidro Port of Entry, to vehicle and pedestrian traffic for several hours. By Sunday afternoon, CBP reopened crossing lanes in both directions to pedestrians and vehicles.

How the incident began

In Mexico, the march started at the Benito Juárez Sports Complex -- where most of the migrants are staying -- and continued to the border.

Organizers said the march would be peaceful. In response, CBP deployed additional personnel to San Ysidro on Sunday in expectation of demonstrations on both sides of the border.

As migrants reached the border area, some protesters split off toward multiple locations, CBP said. Some attempted to enter through San Ysidro and were turned away, the agency said. Others tried to enter "directly east and west of the border crossing."