Tijuana, Mexico, A major US-Mexico border crossing in San Diego was closed for hours on Sunday after a group of migrants on the Mexican side rushed the border area, leading American authorities to fire tear gas on hundreds of migrants who tried to enter the United States illegally.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection suspended all vehicles and pedestrians from passing through the San Ysidro Port of Entry at 11:30 a.m. after the migrants tried to cross on either side of the inspection station.
About 500 migrants on the Mexican side of the border overwhelmed police blockades near the San Ysidro Port of Entry Sunday afternoon, two journalists at the scene in Tijuana told CNN.
Some migrants said they tried crossing only after being denied access to the port of entry where they could claim asylum.
Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that it used tear gas and pepper spray after several migrants threw rocks at border agents, striking them.
Although no injuries were reported, said the agency.
“DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Sunday in a statement.
The shutdown came after hundreds of migrants — many whom are fleeing violence in Central America — assembled Sunday morning on the Mexican side of the border. American military helicopters buzzed overhead as hundreds of Mexican federal police officers blocked the migrants from entering San Ysidro.
Migrants from the #MigrantCaravan trying to get to the US border – have left their shelter saying conditions are intolerable and they want to be admitted into the US to seek asylum and are being stopped by riot police pic.twitter.com/7KLWbkHh4k
— Annie Rose Ramos (@Annie_Rose23) November 25, 2018
By Sunday night, Tijuana police had arrested 39 people, the agency said on Facebook.
The Interior Ministry described Sunday’s incident as “acts of provocation” and warned that far from helping the migrants’ cause, it could result in a serious incident on the border.