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U.S. closes major port in San Diego for migrants

US Customs and Border Protection temporarily closed vehicle and pedestrian crossings at the San Ysidro port of entry, one of the largest land border crossings b...
US Mexico border

US Customs and Border Protection temporarily closed vehicle and pedestrian crossings at the San Ysidro port of entry, one of the largest land border crossings between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

The closures came after about 500 migrants overwhelmed police blockades at another crossing nearby and rushed toward the border, said freelance reporter Alfredo Alvarez, who was in the crowd.

The crowds were made up of men, women and a lot of children, he said.

By Sunday afternoon, CBP reopened northbound and southbound crossing lanes to pedestrians, CBP representative Jackie Wasiluk said.

The day began with demonstrations on both sides of the border, which led CBP to deploy additional personnel to San Ysidro, the busiest land port of entry in the Western Hemisphere, according to the US General Services Administration.

Migrants joined the demonstration on the Mexican side of the border, which started at the sports complex where thousands of migrants are staying while they attempt to gain entry to the United States. As they reached the border area, some protesters split off toward multiple locations, CBP said.

Some attempted to enter through San Ysidro, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement.

“After being prevented from entering the port of entry, some of these migrants attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them,” Nielsen said.

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

Groups of Central American migrants have been converging on the Mexican border city for days in their quest to gain entry to the United States. Their presence has drawn Mexican troops, protesters and threats from President Donald Trump to close the US-Mexico border to migrants.

The mayor of Tijuana said on Sunday that he would not let the migrants’ actions damage the city’s relationship with its neighbors across the border. Residents of Tijuana work, study and visit the United States each day, and the border closures affect them, too, Juan Manuel Gastélum Buenrostro said on Twitter on Sunday.

The mayor previously said he will not commit city resources to the migrants, including money or public services. He called on the Mexican government — specifically, President Enrique Peña Nieto and his secretary of domestic affairs — to provide assistance.

“The people of Tijuana will not pay for the stay of these migrants. I will not send Tijuana into debt, just like I have been able to avoid the last two years,” he said in a November 22 Facebook post.

“We are dealing with a humanitarian crisis and the federal government must step up to its responsibility!!!”