TRUMP TO MEXICO: ‘Ship migrants home or face permanent shut down of border’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday warned Mexican officials to send migrants massed in Tijuana and threatening to crash the U.S. border “back to their countries” or face a permanent closure of the border.

“Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries,” the president tweeted. “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!”

The president’s comments come in response to a wave of backlash from left-leaning news agencies and political pundits who criticized Trump’s authorization of tear gas use on migrants who stormed the border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it suspended northbound and southbound crossings for both pedestrians and vehicles at the San Ysidro port of entry at the president’s order.

A CBP spokesperson added that some demonstrators “attempted to illegally enter the U.S. through both the northbound and southbound vehicle lanes at the port of entry itself. Those persons were stopped and turned back to Mexico.”

U.S. border agents confirmed Monday that they had shot several rounds of tear gas at migrants who began throwing rocks at U.S. authorities and who had attempted to break through secured points along the border.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also confirmed through a statement that some migrants “attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them.

“As I have continually stated, DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons,” Nielsen said. “We will also seek to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who destroys federal property, endangers our frontline operators, or violates our nation’s sovereignty.”

President Trump has characterized the vast majority of asylum claims as fraudulent and said use of deady force would be authorized if necessary to secure the U.S. southern border.

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BUILD THE WALL: Protesters chant ‘Out!’ at migrants camped at US border

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Hundreds of Tijuana residents congregated around a monument in an affluent section of the city south of California on Sunday to protest the thousands of Central American migrants who have arrived via caravan in hopes of a new life in the U.S.

Tensions have built as nearly 3,000 migrants from the caravan poured into Tijuana in recent days after more than a month on the road, and with many more months ahead of them while they seek asylum. The federal government estimates the number of migrants could soon swell to 10,000.

U.S. border inspectors are processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at Tijuana’s main crossing to San Diego. Asylum seekers register their names in a tattered notebook managed by migrants themselves that had more than 3,000 names even before the caravan arrived.

On Sunday, displeased Tijuana residents waved Mexican flags, sang the Mexican national anthem and chanted “Out! Out!” in front of a statue of the Aztec ruler Cuauhtemoc, 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from the U.S. border. They accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana. They also complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.” And they voiced worries that their taxes might be spent to care for the group.

“We don’t want them in Tijuana,” protesters shouted.

Juana Rodriguez, a housewife, said the government needs to conduct background checks on the migrants to make sure they don’t have criminal records.

A woman who gave her name as Paloma lambasted the migrants, who she said came to Mexico in search of handouts. “Let their government take care of them,” she told video reporters covering the protest.

A block away, fewer than a dozen Tijuana residents stood with signs of support for the migrants. Keyla Zamarron, a 38-year-old teacher, said the protesters don’t represent her way of thinking as she held a sign saying: Childhood has no borders.

Most of the migrants who have reached Tijuana via caravan in recent days set out more than a month ago from Honduras, a country of 9 million people. Dozens of migrants in the caravan who have been interviewed by Associated Press reporters have said they left their country after death threats.

But the journey has been hard, and many have turned around.

Alden Rivera, the Honduran ambassador in Mexico, told the AP on Saturday that 1,800 Hondurans have returned to their country since the caravan first set out on Oct. 13, and that he hopes more will make that decision. “We want them to return to Honduras,” said Rivera.

Honduras has a murder rate of 43 per 100,000 residents, similar to U.S. cities like New Orleans and Detroit. In addition to violence, migrants in the caravan have mentioned poor economic prospects as a motivator for their departures. Per capita income hovers around $120 a month in Honduras, where the World Bank says two out of three people live in poverty.

The migrants’ expected long stay in Tijuana has raised concerns about the ability of the border city of more than 1.6 million people to handle the influx.

While many in Tijuana are sympathetic to the migrants’ plight and trying to assist, some locals have shouted insults, hurled rocks and even thrown punches at them. The cold reception contrasts sharply with the warmth that accompanied the migrants in southern Mexico, where residents of small towns greeted them with hot food, campsites and even live music.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has called the migrants’ arrival an “avalanche” that the city is ill-prepared to handle, calculating that they will be in Tijuana for at least six months as they wait to file asylum claims. Gastelum has appealed to the federal government for more assistance to cope with the influx.

Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Saturday that the federal government was flying in food and blankets for the migrants in Tijuana.

Tijuana officials converted a municipal gymnasium and recreational complex into a shelter to keep migrants out of public spaces. The city’s privately run shelters have a maximum capacity of 700. The municipal complex can hold up to 3,000.

At the municipal shelter, Josue Caseres, 24, expressed dismay at the protests against the caravan. “We are fleeing violence,” said the entertainer from Santa Barbara, Honduras. “How can they think we are going to come here to be violent?”

Some from the caravan have diverted to other border cities, such as Mexicali, a few hours to the east of Tijuana.

Elsewhere on Sunday, a group of 200 migrants headed north from El Salvador, determined to also find safety in numbers to reach the U.S. Edwin Alexander Gomez, 20, told AP in San Salvador that he wants to work construction in New York, where he hears the wages are better and the city is safer.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who sought to make the caravan a campaign issue in the midterm elections, used Twitter on Sunday to voice support for the mayor of Tijuana and try to discourage the migrants from seeking entry to the U.S.

Trump wrote that like Tijuana, “the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it. They are causing crime and big problems in Mexico. Go home!”

He followed that tweet by writing: “Catch and Release is an obsolete term. It is now Catch and Detain. Illegal Immigrants trying to come into the U.S.A., often proudly flying the flag of their nation as they ask for U.S. Asylum, will be detained or turned away.”

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Associated Press writers Yesica Fisch, Amy Guthrie, Julie Watson, and Marcos Aleman contributed to the contents of this report.

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CHAOS AT THE BORDER: Hundreds of illegals flood U.S. as migrant caravan crashes California border

ESCUINAPA, Mexico (AP) — Migrants in a caravan of Central Americans scrambled Wednesday to reach the U.S. border, arriving by the hundreds in Tijuana, while U.S. authorities across the border were readying razor wire security barriers.

Authorities in Tijuana were struggling to deal with a group of 357 migrants who arrived aboard nine buses Tuesday and another group of 398 that arrived Wednesday.

Josue Vargas, an immigrant from Honduras who finally pulled into Tijuana Wednesday after more than a month on the road, said “Mexico has been excellent, we have no complaint about Mexico. The United States remains to be seen.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, meanwhile, went to visit U.S. troops posted to the border in south Texas, and said the deployment provides good training for war.

That didn’t deter arriving groups of Central Americans from going to a stretch of border fence in Tijuana to celebrate.

On Tuesday, a couple of dozen migrants scaled the steel border fence to celebrate their arrival, chanting “Yes, we could!” and one man dropped over to the U.S. side briefly as border agents watched from a distance. He ran quickly back to the fence.

Tijuana’s head of migrant services, Cesar Palencia Chavez, said authorities offered to take the migrants to shelters immediately, but they initially refused.

“They wanted to stay together in a single shelter,” Palencia Chavez said, “but at this time that’s not possible” because shelters are designed for smaller groups and generally offer separate facilities for men, women and families.

But he said that after their visit to the border, most were taken to shelters in groups of 30 or 40.

With a total of three caravans moving through Mexico including 7,000 to 10,000 migrants in all, questions arose as to how Tijuana would deal with such a huge influx, especially given U.S. moves to tighten border security and make it harder to claim asylum.

On Wednesday, buses and trucks carried some migrants into the state of Sinaloa along the Gulf of California and further northward into the border state of Sonora.

The bulk of the main caravan appeared to be about 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) from the border, but was moving hundreds of miles per day.

The Rev. Miguel Angel Soto, director of the Casa de Migrante — House of the Migrant — in the Sinaloa capital of Culiacan, said about 2,000 migrants had arrived in that area. He said the state government, the Roman Catholic Church and Escuinapa officials were helping the migrants.

The priest also said the church had been able to get “good people” to provide buses for moving migrants northward. He said so far 24 buses had left Escuinapa, Sinaloa, on an eight-drive to Navojoa in Sonora state. Small groups were reported in the northern cities of Saltillo and Monterrey, in the region near Texas.

From Sonora, some migrants said they had already caught buses from to Tijuana.

About 1,300 migrants in a second caravan were resting at a stadium in Mexico City, where the first group had stayed last week

Many say they are fleeing poverty, gang violence and political instability in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Mexico has offered refuge, asylum or work visas, and its government said Monday that 2,697 temporary visas had been issued to individuals and families to cover them during the 45-day application process for more permanent status. Some 533 migrants had requested a voluntary return to their countries, the government reported.

The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to “harden” the border crossing from Tijuana ahead of the caravans.

Customs and Border Protection announced it was closing four lanes at the busy San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry in San Diego, California, so it could install infrastructure.

That still leaves a substantial path for the tens of thousands of people who cross daily: Twenty-three lanes remain open at San Ysidro and 12 at Otay Mesa.

San Ysidro is the border’s busiest crossing, with about 110,000 people entering the U.S. every day. That traffic includes some 40,000 vehicles, 34,000 pedestrians and 150 to 200 buses.

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Associated Press writer Maria Verza contributed to the content of this article.

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‘YOU’RE OFFENSIVE!’ Trump blasts media; Defends anti-migrant ad

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday defended an ad that warned America against the dangers of the incoming migrant invasion and urged voters to vote red in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

“I don’t know about it. I mean you’re telling me something I don’t know about,” Trump said when asked about the ad’s being pulled by NBC and Fox in response to the controversy surrounding it. “We have a lot of ads. And they certainly are effective, based on the numbers that we’re seeing.”

“A lot of things are offensive,” the president added when another reporter pressed him for further comment. “Your questions are offensive a lot of times so, you know.”

The ad, which was paid for by the Trump campaign, tied the migrant caravan heading towards the southern border from South America with Luis Bracamontes, a man convicted of killing two U.S. police officers. In it, Trump accuses Democrats of attempting to flood America with criminals like Bracamontes through methods like the caravan.

In addition to Fox and NBC’s rebuke, CNN declined to air the ad declaring it’s content “racist”.

Republicans and the president have made the topics of immigration reform and securing the nation’s border key issues of the 2018 midterms.

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