As thousands of migrants from Central America wait in makeshift Tijuana shelters for a chance to apply for asylum in the U.S., a process that could take months, some have organized protests to pressure U.S. officials to devote more resources to speed up the process.
On Sunday, one of those protests, peaceful at first, turned chaotic when several hundered migrants broke away, overwhelming Mexican federal police officers before rushing a border fence and attempting to illegally enter the U.S.
In response, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers shut down both south and northbound traffic at the San Ysidro border crossing south of San Diego for nearly six hours. The closure disrupted one of the busiest border crossings in the world at the tail end of a holiday weekend when border crossings are typically packed with travelers.
Al Otro Lado, a binational advocacy group that provides legal assistance to migrants seeking asylum, said the migrants were protesting peacefully when CBP fired tear gas.
“Women and children refugees who were peacefully demonstrating in Mexico injured by tear gas launched by US authorities,” the group said on Twitter. “No one was trying to breach the border. All they wanted was an explanation as to why they were being forced to wait so long to ask for asylum.”
About 500 migrants who took part in Sunday’s protest and attempted to “violently” enter the U.S. were contained by Mexican authorities, Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior said in a statement.
Source: USA Today