Give Me Your Huddled Masses

Over two thousand migrants planned to march to the San Ysidro Port of entry to apply to seek asylum on Sunday, November 25. That initial plan completely changed when they were met by over three dozen Mexican police officers wearing riot gear, blocking their way from crossing to El Chaparral, which is the port of entry used to cross the border.


Before the group put their plan to action, the streets outside of the Benito Juarez Sport Complex, the largest migrant shelter in Tijuana, were filled with shelter volunteers and migrants waiting in line to eat before collectively making their way towards the border on the warm Sunday morning.


One of the people in line to eat was Steven, a 22 year old from Honduras who has been in Tijuana for two weeks. 


“I don’t know if I’m going to cross or anything but I’m going to eat now and then go,” said Steven.


Seeking asylum in other countries away from persecution is legal under international law under article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


The group planning to apply for asylum in the United States gathered after eating, some holding up Honduran and Mexican flags as they prepared to march.


“You all need to get organized in the back, companions,” said a migrant speaking into a megaphone to the crowd.


As the group approached the bridge, a barricade of police officers wearing riot gear lined the entrance of the bridge, preventing the asylum seekers from going forth.


“We are not criminals; we are workers,” said a migrant at the front of the group as they stood facing the Mexican federal police officers.


The group then made their way around the police officers by going down a street parallel to the bridge as the officers tried to keep up with the group.


The San Ysidro Port completely shut down on both sides of the border, just before 11:30 a.m., after dozens from the group ran through a portion of the San Ysidro entry in an attempt to enter the US.


These individuals were denied entry by Mexican federal police and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers following their failed attempt to illegally enter the U.S. at the border crossing,” said Steve Bansbach, CBP Public Affairs Specialist.


The group of migrants then turned back around to rejoin the rest of the group heading down the Tijuana border towards the next city over–Tecate.


The University Times spoke to one of the migrants in Spanish and translated the interview.


“We just want a peaceful march and [Mexican police are] not letting us. We’re going to see if we can cross to the other side,” said a 25 year-old Migrant man from Honduras while walking along the Mexican-U.S. border wall.


As the migrants headed further down their what-would-be two-and-a-half mile trek down Tijuana right along the border wall, some of them started climbing over the border wall. Some thought that would be a way to seek asylum in the United States, according to a migrant named Julio. That’s when U.S. Border Patrol started intensifying their tactics by using pepper spray, tear gas and shooting the migrants with rubber bullets. Most of the people climbed back into Mexico, but US Border Patrol helicopters continued to use tear gas, which some migrants responded by throwing rocks over the border wall. The intensity continued to increase as Border Patrol agents walked towards the border wall and fired more rounds of rubber bullets onto Mexican soil.


After continuous chemical weapon attacks from the U.S., the majority of the group then decided to turn back towards the Tijuana River, where U.S. Border Patrol released more canisters of pepper spray. According to Movimiento Cosecha’s Twitter account, one of the canisters hit a little girl who is in critical condition.


U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 42 people from the so-called caravan who illegally entered the United States near the San Ysidro Port of Entry during Sunday’s incident,” said Bansbach of the US CBP. He also stated the migrants “became assaultive when they encountered CBP personnel, including throwing projectiles.  The majority returned to Mexico; the rest were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol agents. The caravan members encountered by CBP personnel on Sunday had the opportunity to present themselves for asylum in an orderly manner. However, their behavior was not consistent with the way to lawfully request asylum.”


Thousands of migrants continue to remain in various shelters in Tijuana as they wait to seek asylum.