Sunday afternoon, the U.S. Border Patrol tear gassed children. And mothers and fathers, young men and women, indiscriminately, directing the gas toward every migrant who approached the border crossing near San Diego.
“Children were screaming and coughing in the mayhem.
“Honduran migrant Ana Zuniga, 23, said she saw migrants open 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.
“We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” she told the AP while cradling her 3-year-old daughter Valery in her arms.”
As the demonstration began, U.S. officials closed the San Ysidro border crossing, allowing no one to leave or to enter the United States there. The San Ysidro border crossing is the busiest in the world, with more than 100,000 people passing through it daily.
Hundreds of migrants from the caravan went to the crossing to protest U.S. refusal to process their claims for asylum. Some may have intended to enter the United States. Some chanted “We are not criminals!” Mexican police blocked the way to the pedestrian crossing, so they tried to find other paths.
According to some reports, the migrants were caught between Mexican police and the border, with U.S. helicopters flying over Mexican soil and tear gas fired into Mexico.
“After being rebuffed, the migrants massed at another point along train tracks next to the border fence. Some young men tried to climb the fence, and others hopped up on trains holding Honduran flags and signs asking Trump to let them in.
“Maria Lousia Caceres, 42, and her son followed people who were running toward the fence.
“We thought it was a peaceful march today, but then I saw everyone running and I thought, ‘This is it, God will touch Trump’s heart,” she said.
“Caceres, a tortilla vendor from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, said she had fled her hometown and joined the migrant caravan after gang members killed two of her brothers and burned down her house. She said she wants asylum in the United States, but really just “wants life to get better now.”
“Standing by the fence, when she realized there was no way across the border, she said she did not know what would happen next.”
The migrants in the caravan have arrived in Tijuana over the past few weeks. While many are housed in a sports stadium, the city does not have the resources to care for the thousands of new arrivals. U.S. law allows people to enter and request asylum. Even before the caravan arrived, thousands of asylum seekers waited at various border crossing, as U.S. officials have virtually closed the border to them, refusing to take applications.
In a flip-flop, the Washington Post reported on Saturday that the Trump administration had reached a “Remain in Mexico” agreement with Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)’s administration. that would have meant that when asylum seekers receive a “credible fear” determination allowing them to proceed with their claim, they would be sent back to Mexico to remain there while waiting for an immigration court hearing—a wait likely to last for years. Almost as soon as the agreement was announced, the AMLO team denied that any such agreement existed. AMLO will be inaugurated on December 1.
Back in the United States, legal challenges to immigration policies continue. In Virginia, a federal judge denied a government motion to dismiss a challenge to the new policy of sharing information about sponsors of unaccompanied children and their household members with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The policy, which has led to deportation of prospective sponsors, has made it much harder to place children, resulting in longer stays in detention for those children.
A federal court in Maryland will hear a lawsuit challenging private prisons’ practice of paying ultra-low wages to immigrants held in detention. Two of the plaintiffs, who have since been granted political asylum, worked for fifty cents an hour or less.