Trump threatens to close Mexico border after migrants ‘violently’ try to force their way into US
- Threat is latest against thousands of Central Americans heading for the US where they want to be treated as asylum seekers
- Mexico arrested 500 migrants who tried to illegally cross the border into the US on Sunday
US President Donald Trump said the US will close its southern border with Mexico if needed, a day after US agents shot several rounds of tear gas at migrants after some tried to breach a border fence.
“Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries,” Trump said on Monday on Twitter. “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!”
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 U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2018
US border officials on Sunday temporarily closed the San Isidro port of entry between Tijuana and San Diego, one of the busiest border crossings in the world, “to ensure public safety” after agents shot several rounds of tear gas at migrants.
An estimated 8,200 people heading to the US from Central America are now in Mexico, authorities say. Trump has vowed to shut down the southern border with lethal force if necessary, and is calling on Mexico to intervene.
On Monday, Mexico’s interior ministry said it plans to deport up to 500 people who tried to “violently” and “illegally” cross the border into the US on Sunday.
Several hundred people – mostly men – pushed past a blockade of Mexican police near the crossing. They carried hand-painted US and Honduran flags and chanted: “We are not criminals! We are international workers!”
Honduran Ana Zuniga, 23, said she saw some migrants open a small hole in the barbed wire at a gap on the Mexican side of a levee, at which point US agents fired tear gas at them.
“We ran but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” she said.
Mexico’s Milenio TV showed images of people trying to jump over the fence.
Tensions have been rising in Tijuana, where more than 5,000 people have been camped in and around a sports complex after making their way through Mexico in caravans – groups of migrants travelling together for safety. Many hope to apply for asylum in the US but agents at the San Isidro entry point have been processing fewer than 100 asylum applications a day.
Trump used the migrant caravans as an election issue in this month’s midterms, sending US military to the border and authorising troops to use lethal force.
Earlier on Sunday, the president tweeted: “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 US. No longer).”
On Friday, Tijuana’s mayor, Juan Manuel Gastelum, declared a humanitarian crisis in his city of 1.6 million, which he said was struggling to accommodate the migrants.
Additional reporting by The Guardian